“Cherokee Man Convicted of Murder in Indian Country; Two Sons Previously Pled Guilty”

By | July 21, 2023



A federal jury has convicted James William Buzzard, a Cherokee citizen and Delaware county resident, of first-degree murder in Indian Country. The crime took place within the Cherokee Nation reservation. Buzzard was also convicted of 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. This conviction comes after a prolonged and meticulous investigation by local, state, and federal law enforcement partners.

The crime occurred on August 1, 2019, near Jay, Oklahoma. Deputies from the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office responded to a shooting and found Jerry Tapp deceased in his front yard. Another victim had sustained a gunshot wound to her arm. The surviving victim told investigators that she heard a noise outside her home early that morning and, upon investigating, heard gunfire and felt a sudden pain in her wrist. She managed to lock the front door, crawl to another room, and call 911 for help. OSBI agents found multiple shell casings at the crime scene.

Dakota Buzzard, the son of James Buzzard, was located driving a white 4-door Altima that matched the description given by the surviving victim. Shell casings were found inside the vehicle, and Dakota provided information on the rifle used in the crime. Cody Buzzard, another son of James Buzzard, made Facebook inquiries about getting a vehicle and firearm the day before the shooting, indicating that he had “business to tend to” and was going to “take care of a problem.”

During an interview, Dakota Buzzard confessed that he, Cody, and James Buzzard drove towards Tapp’s residence and waited for him to return from work. Once Tapp arrived, they followed him to his home and shot and killed him. The Buzzard brothers aided and abetted each other in committing the crime.

The two brothers had previously entered pleas in this case. Cody Dwayne Buzzard pled guilty to second-degree murder in Indian Country and discharging a firearm during a crime of violence. Dakota Chase Buzzard pled guilty to conspiracy to carry, use, brandish, and discharge a firearm during a crime of violence.

The FBI, Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, and the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office conducted the investigation, while Assistant U.S. Attorneys Reagan Reininger, Eric Johnston, and Elizabeth Dick prosecuted the case..