Another Former Republican State Senator Found Shot Dead at Home
Former Oklahoma state Sen. Jonathan Nichols found dead with gunshot wound
A second former Republican state senator has been found dead at home from a gunshot within a span of two days.
53-year-old Former Oklahoma GOP state Sen. Jonathan Nichols was found dead inside his home in Norman on Wednesday night from an apparent gunshot wound, according to police.
Investigators are working with the Oklahoma Medical Examiner’s Office to determine the exact cause and manner of death.
Nichols' death comes just one day after 56-year-old former Arkansas state Sen. Linda Collins-Smith was found fatally shot outside her home in Pocahontas on Tuesday.
As Neon Nettle previously reported, police are investigating her death as a homicide.
According to AOL, police could not identify Collins-Smith’s body until Thursday because it had decomposed considerably.
It’s not known how long she had been dead when her body was discovered, but her former press secretary Ken Yang told KATV that neighbors said they had heard gunshots a day or two earlier.
Both Nichols and Collins-Smith were Republicans.
However, Collins-Smith started out as a Democrat when she was first elected to the Arkansas state Senate in 2010 and switched parties in 2011.
Arkansas and Oklahoma lie side-by-side, with a distance of under 500 miles between Pocahontas, Ark., and Norman, Okla., where the deaths occurred.
Jonathan Nichols’ body was found in his Norman home, and a gun was on a table across the room, law enforcement sources told The Oklahoman.
Norman police responded to a report of an individual with a gunshot wound at 8:44 p.m. Wednesday to the 3900 block of Annalane Drive, according to Norman police.
Once inside the residence, officers found Nichols, 53, deceased.
Nichols, a Republican, represented Norman in the Oklahoma Senate from 2000 to 2012.
He was serving as a senior policy advisor to House Speaker Charles McCall at the time of his death.
"I am shocked and incredibly saddened to learn that Jonathan has passed away," McCall said in a statement.
"He was a valuable member of my staff and a friend. Jonathan was a very proud man, but he served humbly."
McCall said Nichols joined his staff in November. Nichols also previously served as chief of staff for former Senate Pro Tem Brian Bingman and his successor, Pro Tem Mike Schulz.
In 2016, former University of Oklahoma President David Boren appointed Nichols to serve as vice president of governmental relations at OU to fight state budget cuts to higher education.
Boren’s successor, James Gallogly, fired a handful of high-level university administrators on his first day as OU’s president in 2018.
Nichols was one of them.
Police have launched a murder investigation after former Arkansas State Senator #LindaCollinsSmith, a Democrat-turned-Republican, has been found shot dead at her home in suspicious circumstances.— Neon Nettle (@NeonNettle) June 5, 2019
READ MORE: https://t.co/u9lqdP0Q7Y#Arkanside #conservatives
Interim OU President Joseph Harroz Jr. said Nichols was valuable in maintaining the university's relationships with civic and legislative leaders.
His commitment to public service made him an asset to OU, he said in a statement.
“We mourn his loss deeply on behalf of his family but also on behalf of the OU family and everyone who believes public service is sacred and essential for a civil society," Harroz said.
"Jonathan will be missed by me, our OU family and the many people he served in his roles as senator, prosecutor, and advocate for education."
Nichols worked as an assistant Cleveland County district attorney for more than six years before his election to the state Senate.
He had to resign from the Cleveland County district attorney's office in order to serve in the Legislature.
Current and former lawmakers mourned Nichols' passing, including Sen. Rob Standridge, who succeeded Nichols in representing Senate District 15.
“Senator Jonathan Nichols was the most brilliant political, legal mind in the Oklahoma State Legislature, and worked tirelessly as a senator and for years on staff to help guide our state forward," said Standridge, R-Norman.