updated 11/9/2006 11:30:29 PM ET 2006-11-10T04:30:29

A man apparently angry over a fence dispute fatally shot three men before committing suicide in front of police officers, authorities said Thursday.

Howard Hawthorne is believed to have shot his next-door neighbor and two other men, Tulsa County Sheriff’s Capt. Fred Cotton said.

He fired on them with a shotgun as one pulled up a fence post with a tractor, said Undersheriff Brian Edwards.

Hawthorne’s property just outside this Tulsa suburb shares a driveway with his neighbor, and the dispute was over a fence along the driveway, Edwards said.

Skiatook police officers responding to a call about gunshots saw bodies on the ground and Hawthorne on a lawn tractor, Cotton said. As they pulled up, Hawthorne shot and killed himself.

“This is a horrendous deal,” Edwards said. “This is one of the most disturbing crime scenes I’ve seen.”

Hawthorne had complained to sheriff’s deputies earlier Thursday that his neighbors had moved or destroyed his fence, Cotton said. They went to his home, advised him of what he could do and left.

“He seemed satisfied and thanked the deputies,” he said.

About a half-hour later, authorities received an emergency call about shots fired, he said.

The victims were next-door neighbor Anthony Graham, 44; Graham’s son Joshua LeForte, 24; and Dewayne Goodwin, a friend of LeForte’s, Cotton said.

Deputies are interviewing people who witnessed the shooting as they drove past, Edwards said.

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