“It’s such a huge loss,” Death of former Oklahoma senator under investigation

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NORMAN, Okla. - Authorities are investigating after a former Oklahoma lawmaker died from an apparent gunshot wound.

Police responded to the home of Jonathan Nichols, 53, on the 3900 block of Annadale Drive just before 9 p.m. Wednesday night. According to Sarah Jensen, public information officer for the Norman Police Department, Nichols' family member called 911.

"Based on officers that arrived on scene, it was clear there was an apparent gunshot wound. As far as what the exact cause and manner of death, that’s going to come from the Medical Examiner’s office as the investigation continues," Jensen said. "This individual was a public servant in the Norman community, served not only with the District Attorney’s office but also as a legislator."

News of Nichols' death came as a shock to Oklahoma lawmakers. Nichols served in the Oklahoma Senate for 12 years before terming out in 2012. He was succeeded by Sen. Rob Standridge, R-Norman.

“Senator Jonathan Nichols was the most brilliant political, legal mind in the Oklahoma State Legislature, and worked tirelessly as a senator and for years on staff to help guide our state forward. Jonathan was a great friend, a mentor, a confidant, and was always there for me in whatever situation I was in," Sen. Standridge said in a statement. "From political advice to a sounding board for each other’s challenges in life, my friendship with Jonathan touched every aspect of my life, and I will miss him dearly. Talitha and their daughters are in our prayers, and we ask all those in Senate District 15 and in the state to say a prayer of thanks for Senator Nichols’ service and a prayer of support for his grieving family.”

Rep. Jacob Rosecrants, D-Norman said they formed an instant friendship once he [Rosecrants] was elected in 2017.

"Every time I saw him at the Capitol in 2017, a very tumultuous time, really…it wasn’t tumultuous between he and I. He was always welcome to come to my office. I was his state rep. He knew it. He was just extremely honest," Rep. Rosecrants told News 4. "It’s such a huge loss. It was a surprise to me today when I heard this. I was just like, what? Out of all the people I met at the Capitol, this is somebody who’s indelible to me from just his personality and the connection we had."

Outside of the Capitol, Nichols served as vice president of government relations at the University of Oklahoma between 2016 and 2018. He received his juris doctorate from the university in 1993.

“We mourn his loss deeply on behalf of his family but also on behalf of the OU family and everyone who believes public service is sacred and essential for a civil society. Johnathan will be missed by me, our OU family and the many people he served in his roles as senator, prosecutor and advocate for education,” OU interim president Joseph Harroz Jr. said in a statement.

Most recently, Nichols worked as Senior Policy Advisor on Speaker Charles McCall's staff in the Oklahoma House.

“I am shocked and incredibly saddened to learn that Jonathan has passed away. He was a valuable member of my staff and a friend. Jonathan was a very proud man, but he served humbly. He was proud of his family and loved them deeply, he was proud of Norman and he was proud of Oklahoma. He was especially proud of his service to the state, as a prosecutor, as a state Senator and later as a valued and esteemed advisor for both Senate leadership and House leadership. He loved the rule of law and public safety, and he spent most of his career working tirelessly on those issues. His wife, Talitha, and his daughters, Jessica and Rachel, are in our prayers today," Speaker said in a statement.

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