TAHLEQUAH — Tahlequah Police Chief Nate King has confirmed that two people are dead after a shooting Wednesday night, and the man involved in the domestic dispute was killed by Cherokee Nation marshals.
King said officers responded to a domestic incident at 611 Pamela St. around 8 p.m. after multiple calls to 911 were made regarding shots being fired.
“The last of [the calls was] from a woman who indicated that her sister, Rachel Maxwell, had been shot in the head by her estranged husband, Eddie Ray Maxwell,” said King. “Mr. Maxwell shot at [the sister] as she was fleeing the apartment.”
The caller told 911 dispatchers she didn’t know where Maxwell was when she was on the phone.
Officers arrived within three minutes of the call, and a short time later, they radioed that they were in a standoff with Maxwell, 37, of Muskogee.
“We called for the Cherokee Nation Marshal Service SWAT team, and when I got there, we made entry into the apartment,” said King. “I could see Mr. Maxwell in the living room with a gun in his hand and could see Mrs. Maxwell on the floor, appearing to be unresponsive.”
Officers tried to get the man to drop the revolver, he refused, and indicated that he wasn’t “going back.”
“He said he couldn’t drop the gun and that he wasn’t going back, and I can only assume he meant he wasn’t going back to prison,” said King. “He said multiple times that [Rachel] was still alive.”
King said officers told Maxwell to drop the gun so they could attend to Rachel Maxwell, 40, and then the SWAT team arrived and took over the scene.
“[Tahlequah officers] backed out and they took that tactical position, and after a few minutes, one of the marshals fired multiple times and subsequently Mr. Maxwell died,” said King.
Rachel Maxwell was pronounced dead at the scene, and Eddie Ray Maxwell was taken to Northeastern Health System by EMS, where he was also pronounced dead.
King said the couple have children, but none of them were in the apartment at the time of the shooting.
He added that Maxwell didn’t shoot at the SWAT team during the standoff. However, he was refusing to allow officers to provide aid to the victim.
“An armed subject, who had already admitted by his own words he had committed a homicide, was preventing us from giving aid to that victim, and the decision was made to eliminate that threat,” said King.
King said the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation is looking into the shooting.
Maxwell has a lengthy background as a victim and as a criminal.
In April 2001, Maxwell was shot multiple times in a robbery. At the time, he was hailed as a hero by his brother, Brian Maxwell. When an armed gunman burst through the door of their home, the Maxwell brothers retreated to a bedroom, and Eddie Ray Maxwell pushed an empty crib against the door to keep the shooter at bay. The man shot through the door, and Maxwell was hit by a bullet while holding the crib against the door. Brian Maxwell was not injured.
In 2003, Maxwell was convicted of driving a car that killed one child and injured another.
On Aug. 24, 2002, Maxwell apparently killed 10-year-old DaVonta Shawntray “Tray” Wartson, who had been riding with his brother on a bicycle. The bicycle veered out into the street, where the two boys were struck by a vehicle Maxwell was driving. Maxwell fled the scene, but turned himself in a few days later. He was sentenced to 12 years in prison and a year in jail after being convicted of negligent homicide, leaving the scene of a fatality accident, and leaving the scene of an accident involving injury.
In December 2010, Maxwell was charged, along with three others, with assault and battery with a deadly weapon, felony discharge of a firearm, and discharging a firearm from a motor vehicle.
Maxwell was charged in June 2012 with assault with a dangerous weapon after former conviction of a felony for allegedly stabbing a man in the chest. Police said the stabbing took place following an earlier fight that happened a couple of blocks away.
He most recently had been convicted of drug and weapons charges and was released from Oklahoma Department of Corrections custody Oct. 26.
King said officer body camera footage of the scene should be available no later than Nov. 12.
“This is a tragic event, and two families are mourning the loss of loved ones. Our thoughts and prayers are with those families and friends of those involved, along with the officers who responded to the scene. A special thank you to the Cherokee Nation Marshal Service, Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office, GRDA Police, Cherokee Nation EMS, and Northeastern Health Systems EMS for their assistance with this incident,” said King.
Muskogee Phoenix Executive Editor Elizabeth Ridenour contributed to this report.