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Press Release

Delaware County Cherokee Citizen Convicted of Murder

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Oklahoma

TULSA Okla. – A federal jury convicted James William Buzzard, 50, a Cherokee citizen and Delaware county resident of first-degree murder in Indian Country; assault with a dangerous weapon with intent to do bodily harm; and discharge of a firearm during the commission of a federal crime of violence. The crime occurred within the Cherokee Nation reservation.

“Today the jury convicted the last of three defendants for a brutal murder in rural Indian Country,” said U.S. Attorney Clinton Johnson. “This case follows a prolonged and meticulous investigation by our local, state, and federal law enforcement partners. Violent crime within the Northern District of Oklahoma will be thoroughly investigated and the perpetrators brought to justice.” 

According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, on Aug. 1, 2019, the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office responded to a shooting near Jay, Okla. Deputies discovered Jerry Tapp deceased in his front yard. It appeared that Tapp sustained multiple gunshot wounds and that a second victim had a gunshot wound to her arm. According to court testimony, the surviving victim told investigators that she heard a noise outside the home early that morning. When she turned on the light and opened the door, she heard gunfire and felt a sudden pain in her wrist. The victim noticed a four-door car before she shut and locked the front door, crawled to another room, and called 911. While investigating the crime, OSBI agents located and seized multiple shell casings.

Dakota Buzzard, son of James Buzzard, was located by deputies from the McDonald County Sheriff’s Office driving a white 4-door Altima matching the surviving victim’s description. OSBI agents later found four spent shell casings inside the vehicle. Dakota provided the location of the rifle used, as well as additional bullets. During the investigation, the shell casings found at the scene of the crime were identified as having been fired by the same rifle.

On Aug. 6, 2019, investigators obtained Facebook records of Cody Buzzard, another son of James Buzzard. The day prior to the shooting, Cody made Facebook inquiries about getting a vehicle and firearm. He indicated that he “had business to tend to,” and he was going to “take care of a problem.”

During an interview with authorities, Dakota Buzzard stated that he, Cody, and James Buzzard drove toward Tapp’s residence, parked up the road from the home, and waited for him to return from work. James Buzzard allegedly told his sons to retrieve the rifle from the trunk of the car. Dakota stated that once Tapp drove by they followed him to his home where Tapp was shot and killed. Prosecutors proved the Buzzards aided and abetted one another to shoot and kill Tapp and then shoot his girlfriend.

The two brothers in this case, both Cherokee citizens from Grove, entered earlier pleas. Cody Dwayne Buzzard, 29, pled guilty to second degree murder in Indian Country; and brandishing and discharging a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence. Dakota Chase Buzzard, 22, pled to conspiracy to carry, use, brandish, and discharge a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence.

The FBI, Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, and the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office investigated the case.

Assistant U.S. Attorney’s Reagan Reininger, Eric Johnston, and Elizabeth Dick prosecuted the case.


U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Oklahoma

Public Affairs


Updated July 21, 2023

Violent Crime