LAHOMA, Okla. — Garfield County Sheriff Jerry Niles described a Saturday night event involving Ku Klux Klan robes and a bonfire near Lahoma as a “Halloween prank gone bad.”
The incident occurred at the 200 block of Anthony Drive, according to a preliminary report filed by the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office.
Cary Kent Sharp, 47, of Lahoma is listed as a suspect in the report, which lists the offender as suspected of using alcohol.
Lahoma Police Chief Matt Hankins said Sharp, who is the husband of Lahoma Mayor Theresa Sharp, was not charged.
“It was a prank gone bad,” Mayor Sharp said.
Mayor Sharp clarified she was nowhere near her property during the incident.
"I was out trick-or-treating with my son, and I in no way support the activities that occurred," she said.
Cary Sharp said no harm was meant.
“This is ridiculous, really,” Cary Sharp said. “It was a Halloween night.”
At 10:20 p.m. Saturday, a woman reported people on Anthony Street were dressed as Klu Klux Klan members and burning a cross, according to the report. The reporting party was extremely upset, Niles said.
Hankins advised Garfield County Deputy Aaron Moore that the property at the end of Anthony Street is Garfield County jurisdiction. The building on Anthony Street and the backyard are both outside Lahoma city limits, he said.
“Hankins and I tried to explain to the woman that although in poor taste, the Constitution protects freedom of speech and that we can't make them stop,” Moore wrote in the report. “This further irritated the woman.”
Deputy Moore made contact with the group at the bonfire. Sharp was dressed in white robe with a large cross on it but no hood, according to the report.
“I advised the group why I was there, and that although I know it was a joke that they save them and myself anymore headaches to not burn anymore crosses,” Moore wrote in the report.
Niles said the mayor’s husband and adult buddies were involved. The sheriff said the cross in the photo was not burned, but there was a bonfire.
“There was no cross that burned,” Hankins said. “It was held behind the fire to look like it was burning, but there was no fire. The pictures we’ve seen claimed they were burning one, but there was not one burnt.”
Law enforcement confirmed a Facebook photo that drew attention to the incident. There were several comments and posts made about the incident and alleged activities during the evening.
Niles said the incident involved “bad decision making” and “very poor judgment.”
“It was done in very, very poor taste,” Niles said. “It brings up bad images of things that 99.9 percent of Americans, especially Oklahomans, are adamantly against. We’re all Americans, born and raised here, and we have a responsibility to honor the Constitution and the rights of others and feelings of others.”
Misty Meister, the witness reporting the incident, said she did not take this as a prank or a joke after seeing more than one person in robes with hoods.
"We are a small community, and in no way do I feel this represents our views as a whole," Meister said. "It is upsetting due to the fact that we live in a community with families of different ethnic backgrounds, and this is a symbol of hate and intolerance."
Meister said the community should not have been subjected to this display.
"However, many people and children were out for evening festivities," she said. "Unfortunately, now this is something we have to talk to our children about."