Lawmakers in Arkansas and Oklahoma lament the loss of two former state senators found dead within two days of each other in their homes.
The fatal shooting of former Republican state Sen. Linda Collins-Smith this week in Arkansas is being investigated as a homicide, authorities said.
According to police, in Oklahoma, former state Sen. Jonathan Nichols was discovered dead from a gunshot at his Norman house, about 20 miles from Oklahoma City.
Additional details on the apparently unrelated deaths have not been provided by authorities. In both states, investigations are under way.
The corpse of Collins-Smith was discovered at her house in Randolph County, Arkansas on Tuesday. She was fatally shot and her death is being investigated as a homicide, published KARK, a CNN affiliate.
Collins-Smith, who had been a Democrat before moving to the Republican Party, was first appointed to the Arkansas Senate in 2014 and missed the election of her party last year, the Little Rock TV station said.
“She was a passionate voice for her people and a close member of our Republican family. We are praying for her loved ones during this difficult time,” the Arkansas GOP tweeted.
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson said he was stunned by her death and expressed his condolences to her loved ones.”She was a good person who served in the public arena with passion and conviction,” Hutchinson said. “The first lady and I extend our deepest sympathies to her family and friends during this difficult time.”
Police discovered the former Republican legislator’s body after a gunshot report on Wednesday evening.
Nichols, 53, was a senator for the Oklahoma state from 2000 to 2012 and subsequently served at Oklahoma University, CNN affiliate KFOR said in Oklahoma City.
“Investigators are currently working with the Oklahoma medical examiner’s office to determine the exact cause and manner of death,” Norman police said.
Lawmakers expressed shock over Nichols’s death.
“Sen. 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,” said state Sen. Rob Standridge, who succeeded him in Oklahoma’s District 15.