OKLAHOMA CITY—Oklahoma’s labor commissioner died after he was stabbed multiple times at an Oklahoma City restaurant, and his adult son has been arrested on a first-degree murder complaint in the slaying, police said.
Officers were called around 6:30 p.m. Sunday to a Braum’s ice cream and fast-food restaurant on the city’s northwest side after a stabbing was reported, Oklahoma City Police Department Capt. Paco Balderrama said. Police found Labor Commissioner Mark Costello stabbed multiple times in the head and neck, Balderrama said. Costello, 59, was taken to a hospital, where he died.
State Medical Examiner’s Office spokeswoman Amy Elliott said an autopsy would be performed.
Police said an altercation started inside the building and spilled into the parking lot, where bystanders helped subdue the attacker until officers arrived.
Costello’s 26-year-old son, Christian Costello, was taken into custody in the parking lot and arrested on a first-degree murder complaint, Balderrama said. He remained in police custody late Sunday night.
Balderrama said he did not know whether the younger Costello had an attorney who could comment on the allegations.
Condolences poured in from state officials.
“Our hearts ache as an agency for this tragic event and our department grieves for his family during this very difficult time,” Labor Department Chief of Staff Jim Marshall said in a statement.
Costello was married with five children.
“I’m just numb right now, as many of us are,” Oklahoma Republican Party Chairman Randy Brogdon said. “He was a great Christian, a good man and a wonderful husband and dad. He is going to be sorely missed.”
Republican U.S. Sen. James Lankford also lauded Costello, saying in a statement he was “passionate about our nation, conservative fiscal principles, and the people of our state.”
“Mark was a friend, and as we grieve, we will also pray for his family as they deal with this unbelievable tragedy,” Lankford said.
A successful businessman from Bartlesville who founded a telephone software company in 1984, Costello ousted the incumbent Democrat with 64 percent of the vote during a Republican sweep of statewide offices in 2010. He easily won re-election in 2014.
A strong proponent of smaller government, Costello closed the agency’s Tulsa office, which he said was underused, and that the agency’s technology upgrades had allowed much of its professional licensing services to be conducted online.
“You can reform government,” Costello said during last year’s campaign. “It can be done when there is political will. I have that political will,” he said.
Costello also faced criticism for comments he made in 2011 in which he compared state bureaucrats to “feral hogs,” a comment he later said was “an unfortunate animal analogy.”