Dateline   |  August 02, 2013

'Mystery in Mustang' Part 3

People around Mustang begin to wonder who this intruder was. Was Keith even the real target?

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> fire chief keith bryan , so brave, spent his career running toward danger. now his life had been cut short inside the safety of his own home. he left behind two dear sons and a wife to whom he had been so devoted.

>> i think it was just such a shock, such a huge event, and such a tragedy on so many levels.

>> at the fire house keith led in nichols hills , captain roger strayka couldn't believe it.

>> you have that feeling that's all exploding, don't know what happened.

>> must be such a weird thing to hear.

>> it was, over the years, fire service years, you get calloused over, hide your feelings. when it hits close to home , you ask yourself why.

>> detective mcneil was no rookie, but this was the first case of its kind she had ever seen in mustang.

>> that was my first real who done it homicide case.

>> what significance does that have for you?

>> it was very significant. i was nervous. i wanted to, of course, do a good job and make sure the right person went to jail for that crime.

>> to find that person detectives needed to comb through every detail of becky 's eyewitness account. mcneil and an agent from the oklahoma state bureau of investigation interviewed her again at the hospital the night of the shooting.

>> time is 1:23 a.m . what's your first name?

>> becky bryan .

>> becky talked about how close she and keith were especially after they made it through that rough patch.

>> we were quite in love. i didn't even know he loved me until i filed for divorce. it really came into play.

>> investigators went over step by step how the shooting went down.

>> what are you looking for when you go into that conference room to interview becky ?

>> how does this person know keith , can she describe him better, you know, things like that.

>> and the door opened, we were watching a loud movie, "carrie" and this young kid about 25 years old walks into the house and comes over to the carpet and my husband didn't even have time to turn around. i looked just in time to see and then he come up from here and he shot him in the head right here.

>> point blank.

>> point blank, right here.

>> it was then becky said that the shooter turned and spoke.

>> it was unbelievable, the guy, this is what he said, i knew he was nice, wasn't going to hurt me, he said i'm sorry, ma'am, but he should have [bleep] hired me.

>> so a polite shooter.

>> yes, she did describe him that way, yes.

>> there it was again. that odd but clearly important detail, along with his polite apology, the shooter seemed to give away a motive. was he someone vying for a job in keith 's fire department ? keith 's deputy didn't think so.

>> i never was concerned about that.

>> why not?

>> for one thing, it had been four years since we had hired anybody, so nobody is going to sit and stew for four years and then all of a sudden get mad and shoot the guy that didn't hire him.

>> but if the shooter wasn't angry over a job in keith 's fire department , there was another possibility, one that neighbors of the bryans wondered about. keith often did projects on the house. was the killer someone who wanted a construction job and didn't get it? one neighbor told police a few weeks earlier a stranger had been driving around asking for work as a handyman. he said the man had a funny face and drove an old pickup truck , he also remembered seeing a similar truck the night of the shooting.

>> are you interviewing neighbors? are you asking people if they saw anyone suspicious in the neighborhood, if they saw a truck in the neighborhood?

>> yes, all of that was going on.

>> what were they yielding, anything?

>> very little. very little.

>> then among the firefighters and their wives, a third entirely different idea was bandied about. no one is sure who said it first, but soon some were wondering out loud if keith hadn't been the intended target at all.

>> there was a theory out there that perhaps this intruder was looking for a different fireman.

>> and why would anyone think that? not far from the bryans' home lived the oklahoma city fire chief , his name keith bryant. bryan with a t at the end.

>> the whole keith bryant theory, that maybe they got the wrong fire chief ?

>> you know, that did not occur to me until i got to the hospital and that's the first time somebody brought up maybe mistaken identity .

>> the buzz reached roger back at the fire house .

>> that story did come out that possibly the person that done this got the wrong chief. it could have been anyone's theory as to what had happened.

>> surely the oklahoma city chief hired and fired many more people than keith did. had the shooter been angry with him? a friend reached him by phone. he was safe and sound at a conference on the coast the night of the shooting, but there were problems with the mistaken identity theory. the two chiefs didn't look much alike, and the more keith 's firemen brothers thought it over, the less likely it seemed.

>> i still didn't think that story made sense.

>> too far fetched?

>> yeah, it is real competitive to get hired on as a firefighter. i just can't see somebody not getting hired and then killing the fire chief and the oklahoma city fire department , i don't think the fire chief really even has anything to do with the hiring process.

>> so around mustang the questions were many, the answers few. people were watchful, certainly less at ease.

>> i found myself wanting to close blinds early.

>> did you have a moment of panic?

>> a little bit, yeah. it was a little eery, not knowing what was going on.

>> while those around mustang wondered who and where the invader was, investigators had found something at the crime scene . it would turn fear and suspicion right around.