Jeremy Lake, 19, was taking a walk on Tuesday night with an 18-year-old woman when he was suddenly shot to death. The parents of Lake’s female companion, Lisa Kepler, both police officers in Tulsa, Oklahoma, have been arrested for the murder.
Shannon and Gina Kepler, 54 and 48 respectively, were not on official duty when the shooting occurred. Combined, they have a total of 24 years’ service on the City of Tulsa police force. Shannon Kepler is employed by the Tulsa Police Department’s police academy and worked a shift on Tuesday before the murder occurred. Gina Kepler had Tuesday off from her duties as a patrol officer.
Shannon Kepler was arrested for first-degree murder for the shooting death of Lake. His wife, Gina Kepler, was arrested for being an accessory to murder after the fact. Both Keplers were booked into the Tulsa County jail on Tuesday night. Due to their professions, both suspects are being housed separately from other residents of the jail with whom they may have had prior contact while in their official capacities. It is unknown at this time whether either or both have retained lawyers.
According to Lisa Kepler, she and Lake were walking together and were in front of their home when confronted by Shannon Kepler, who exited a black Chevy Suburban. After an argument broke out in which Lake tried to introduce himself to Lisa Kepler’s father as Lisa’s boyfriend, Shannon Kepler shot Lake “two or three times.” Lisa Kepler tried to stop her father from shooting but then ran away, hiding behind a rose bush as another shot was fired, which missed its target. Lisa Kepler informed Tulsa World that she herself alerted authorities, telling them that her father had been the shooter. Shannon Kepler turned himself into authorities several hours after the shooting. Gina Kepler’s accessory complaint is a result of her lack of cooperation as police searched for her husband, his car and his gun. Chuck Jordan did not reveal if the weapon used in the murder was recovered, but he did say that it was not one of the Kepler’s service weapons.
During a news conference held on Wednesday, Lisa Kepler stated that she had been kicked out of the Kepler home one week ago due to what she referred to as bad “life decisions.” After her parents drove her to the Tulsa Day Center for the Homeless, Lisa Kepler began living with Lake. She could offer no hint as to a motive for the shooting, and said that her parents “didn’t even know Jeremy.”
A friend of Lake’s who was at the scene when the shooting occurred, Josh Mills, 23, said that Shannon Kepler had also attempted to shoot Lake’s brother, 13, as he sat on the front porch of the home. Mills claims that the bullet missed but was deflected and caused a grazing injury to the boy’s arm. Citing past training as a paramedic, Mills related how he attempted to stop Lake’s bullet wounds from bleeding. He believes that Lake suffered bullet wounds to his chest and neck from a distance of three feet.
Chief of Police Chuck Jordan released a statement in which he offered his condolences to both families involved in the murder, adding that this case highlights the fact that domestic violence can occur in any family regardless of income level or status.
Shannon and Gina Kepler have been placed on paid administrative leave. Neighbors of the family expressed shock on Wednesday, saying that the Keplers were “perfect” neighbors who had “given and given” to Lisa Kepler and her two sisters, who they had adopted several years ago. Lake is described as a caring person who was committed to helping the homeless. He was doing just that for the Center for the Homeless when he met Lisa and offered her a place to stay. Friends say that he had plans to begin school this week in order to learn welding.
By Jennifer Pfalz