NEW YORK — Two former state senators were found dead in their homes in Arkansas and Oklahoma within a span of two days this week.
In Arkansas, the body of former Republican state Sen. Linda Collins-Smith was found Tuesday in her home in Randolph County. She’d been fatally shot and her death is being investigated as a homicide, CNN affiliate KARK reported.
Collins-Smith, who was a Democrat before switching to the Republican Party, was first elected to the state senate in 2014 and lost her party’s primary last year, the affiliate 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. The first lady and I extend our deepest sympathies to her family and friends during this difficult time,” Hutchinson said.
In Oklahoma, police found another Republican lawmaker fatally shot after receiving reports of gunfire.
Former state Sen. Jonathan Nichols’ body was in his home in Norman — about 20 miles from Oklahoma City. He served as state senator from 2000 to 2012, and later worked at the University of Oklahoma, CNN affiliate KFOR reported. Authorities confirmed his death Thursday.
“Investigators are currently working with the Oklahoma medical examiner’s office to determine the exact cause and manner of death,” the Norman Police Department said.
Lawmakers expressed shock over his death.
“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,” said Sen. Rob Standridge, who succeeded him in District 15.
Authorities have not provided additional details on their deaths. Investigations are under way in both states.