MIAMI, Okla. — During the 1960s two young boys, Mark Wall and B.J. Tunnell would ride their bicycles all day long mostly staying on the familiar path located on Ninth Street in Miami.
They would ride all over the northwest part of town.
One day the mischievous boys got a police scanner.
“We would listen to the scanner and when the police were called out, we would get on our bikes and ride to the scene and watch the police,” Wall said. “That’s how we got interested in police work.”
In between their own “police work”, the two hunted and fished together as boys and still do. They even became officers together.
“We were the ‘Best Man’ at each other’s weddings,” Wall said. “I even named my son after him.”
Today, Wall drives down Ninth Street which was renamed B.J. Tunnell Boulevard, after Miami Patrolman Tunnell, 27, who was fatally shot serving a felony warrant at the Elms Motel in Miami.
“His photo hangs in my office to remind me every day what a great police officer he was,” Wall said of his childhood friend.
Wall, a retired Grove police chief, still remembers the moment he got the telephone call about his lifelong friend’s shooting.
“It seems like only yesterday,” Wall said. “I was very blessed to have a friend like him.”
Tunnell died on June 5, 1988.
Gary Anderson, former Miami Police Chief, was a young officer searching for Russell Wayne Haines to arrest him on a warrant out of Texas.
Haines, who had assaulted a Daisetta, Texas police officer, had violated his probation on those charges, said Miami Communications Manager Melinda Stotts.
Stotts said a tribute to Tunnell is on the city’s website.
According to the tribute and published reports, Anderson located Haines at the Elms Motel. He and Oba Edwards, the motel owner, went to Haines’ room and confronted him.
Anderson ordered Haines to place his hands behind his back. At first, Haines started to do as Anderson ordered, but then hesitated, saying, “No, I ain’t going to. You’re going to have to shoot me.” Haines struck Anderson with a double-burner iron gate from a cook stove and a struggle ensued which quickly moved into the parking lot. Edwards then called the police for assistance.
Tunnell arrived at the scene and struck Haines with a flashlight. Haines grabbed Anderson’s revolver which had come out of his holster in the fight and shot Tunnell point-blank. Fearing Haines would shoot Anderson, Edwards began firing at Haines with his own .32-caliber revolver. Haines returned fire twice then began running. Anderson retrieved Tunnell’s service revolver and caught up with Haines, who had tripped and fallen in the motel courtyard. Haines had dropped the gun and was attempting to grab it when Anderson shot him to death.
Tunnell was survived by his wife Brooke.