Another Former Republican State Senator Found Dead with Gunshot Wound for Second Time in 2 Days
Senator Jonathan Nichols' death comes just two days after former Arkansas state senator Linda Collins-Smith was found dead, also with a gunshot wound
For the second time in two days, another former state senator has been found dead inside their home.
On Thursday night, former Oklahoma state senator Jonathan Nichols was discovered dead inside his Norman, OK residence from an apparent gunshot, according to a press release from Norman Police Department.
Authorities found Nichols, 53, who served as a Republican senator for 12 years, after receiving a call that somebody had been shot inside of the home.
The case currently remains under investigation by NPD’s Criminal Investigations Division and the Oklahoma Medical Examiner’s Office, who are working to determine Nichols’ cause and manner of death, according to the press release.
Nichols leaves behind his wife Talitha and their two daughters.
The former lawmaker’s death comes two days after Linda Collins-Smith, a former Arkansas state senator, was found dead in her home.
On Tuesday, Collins-Smith, who switched from the Democratic party to the Republican party in 2011 during her first term in the Arkansas House, was discovered in her Pocahontas home with a gunshot wound, her former press secretary Ken Yang told KATV.
It still remains unclear how, when, or why Collins-Smith was killed, but Yang told the outlet that her neighbors had reportedly heard several gunshots just a day or two before her body was discovered, wrapped in some sort of blanket.
The Randolph County Sheriff’s Department and Arkansas State Police are continuing to investigate her death as suspicious, Region 8 News reports. Sheriff Kevin Bell also told the outlet that the public does not appear to be in danger.
Nichols served as a state senator from 2000-2012. He later went on to take staff positions in the state House, Senate and the University of Oklahoma, KOCO News 5 reports.
At the time of his death, Nichols was working as a senior policy advisor for House Speaker Charles McCall, according to NonDoc.
In a statement to the local outlet, McCall remembered Nichols for being “proud but humble” and said he was a “valuable” staff member and friend.
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“I am shocked and incredibly saddened to learn that Jonathan has passed away. He was a valuable member of my staff and a friend. Jonathan was a very proud man, but he served humbly,” McCall said. “He was proud of his family and loved them deeply, he was proud of Norman and he was proud of Oklahoma.”
McCall did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
The Oklahoma House Speaker was not the only political figure to pay tribute to Nichols in the wake of his passing. Republican State Senator Rob Standridge, who currently represents Nichols’ old district, also wrote a touching message to the late politician.
“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,” Standridge wrote. “Jonathan was a great friend, a mentor, a confidant, and was always there for me in whatever situation I was in.”
“From political advice to a sounding board for each other’s challenges in life, my friendship with Jonathan touched every aspect of my life, and I will miss him dearly,” he continued.
“Talitha and their daughters are in our prayers, and we ask all those in Senate District 15 and in the state to say a prayer of thanks for Senator Nichols’ service and a prayer of support for his grieving family,” Standridge added.