Sheriff: Gunman May Have Killed 6 in Kansas Workplace Shooting
HESSTON, Kan. (AP) — The Harvey County sheriff says four to seven people, including a gunman, are dead after a series of shootings in south-central Kansas. Officials have identified 38-year-old Cedric Ford as the shooter. Harvey County Sheriff T. Walton says 20 to 30 people were shot Thursday. Walton says the attacks occurred at a plant in Hesston that manufactures lawn mower parts, and at several other locations. Walton says a police officer killed the suspect, who had been an employee at the Excel Industries factory. The sheriff says about 200 to 300 people were in the plant at the time of the shooting, and that the officer who killed the suspect likely saved many lives. A co-worker says Ford left work early without explanation before showing up later armed with a rifle. Authorities say Ford wounded three people on the street before storming into the building and shooting 15 others, killing at least three of them. Sheriff Walton says that Ford was served with a protection from abuse order about 90 minutes before the attacks began. He says such orders are typically served "because there's some type of violence in a relationship," but he declined to specify the nature of the relationship in question.
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Governor: Police Chief Chased, Shot Gunman at Kansas Factory
HESSTON, Kan. (AP) — The police chief in Hesston, Kansas, is being credited with chasing and fatally shooting a man suspected of killing three people and wounding 14 others during a shooting rampage at a local factory. Kansas Governor Sam Brownback said Friday that investigators believe Hesston Police Chief Doug Schroeder shot the suspected gunman, Cedric Ford, and likely stopped him from harming more people at the Excel Industries plant on Thursday. Investigators say 200 to 300 people were in the factory at the time. The governor says Schroeder "seized the situation," adding: "God bless him for doing it." Harvey County Sheriff T. Walton didn't identify Schroeder during a news conference after the shooting, but said the officer who stopped the gunman was a "tremendous hero" because the "shooter wasn't done by any means."
Kansas Supreme Court: Law on Sobriety Tests Unconstitutional
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Supreme Court has struck down as unconstitutional a state law that punishes suspected drunken drivers who refuse to submit to a sobriety test. The state's high court, by a 6-1 vote Friday, declared the law that makes it a separate crime to refuse such a test a violation of the Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure. Friday's ruling came a little more than two months since the U.S. Supreme Court announced it also will decide whether states can criminalize a driver's refusal to take an alcohol test even if police have not obtained a search warrant. Roughly a dozen states make it a crime to refuse to consent to warrantless alcohol testing.
Kansas Parents Charged with Torturing Adopted Children
NEWTON, Kan. (AP) — The head of a south-central Kansas home for the aging and his wife have been charged in a new criminal complaint with abusing three children they adopted from Peru. A revised complaint filed Thursday in Harvey County District Court charges Jim and Paige Nachtigal, of North Newton, each with 12 counts including child abuse and aggravated battery. They had previously been charged with three counts of child abuse. The new complaint adds two counts of child abuse that alleges James Nachtigal tortured the two 11-year-olds and his wife is charged with helping him. Seven aggravated battery counts were also added. Their defense attorneys did not return phone messages. Harvey County Attorney David Yoder says he has been advised that the defense plans to try to seal the entire court files.
Kansas Governor Says He'd Vote for Trump as GOP Nominee
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Kansas Governor Sam Brownback says he'd vote for Donald Trump for president if the billionaire New York businessman wins the Republican nomination. Brownback said Thursday that he believes Marco Rubio still can win the GOP presidential nomination. Brownback endorsed the Florida senator last week. But the governor said he will back Trump if Trump wins the nomination, as opposed to either of the two main Democratic candidates. Brownback said: ``I'll support the Republican nominee over Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton.'' Kansas Republicans are holding their presidential caucuses March 5. Many longtime GOP activists are split between supporting Rubio and Texas Senator Ted Cruz, but believe Trump also has significant support.
Kansas Supreme Court Strikes Down 2014 Law on Property Taxes
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Supreme Court has struck down a law that shielded some residents from property tax hikes. The high court ruled Wednesday that the law unconstitutionally granted preferential treatment to "a discrete group of taxpayers." The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that nearly two dozen counties across the state asked the court last year to consider the constitutionality of the state law, which was passed by the Legislature in 2014 and imposed a two-year moratorium on increases in tax valuation for citizens who requested, and won, a valuation appeal. The state's high court sided with the counties on a 5-2 vote and found that the law was a violation of the Kansas Constitution's guarantee of "uniform and equal" property valuation and taxation.
Governor Says Kansas Bonds Program 'Loose' but Knocks Plan to Exclude Wyandotte County
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Kansas Governor Sam Brownback is criticizing a legislative effort to block his administration's effort to lure the American Royal horse and livestock exhibition out of Kansas City, Missouri. But the governor said Thursday that he's willing to work with lawmakers to overhaul a program in which the state authorizes bonds backed by sales tax revenues to help finance economic development projects. Brownback said the so-called STAR bonds program is ``loose.'' Legislators included a provision in budget legislation that blocks Brownback's administration from issuing such debt for any Wyandotte County project through June 2017 unless lawmakers tighten up the STAR bonds program. The governor said it's inappropriate to single out a single county. A recent Department of Commerce report showed a site in Wyandotte County for an American Royal development.
Kansas, Seven Other States Seek Challenge of Inmate Phone Call Fee Rules
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Kansas and seven other states are seeking to join Oklahoma in challenging a new federal rule limiting the amount local jails and state prisons can charge inmates for phone calls. The FCC voted to impose the 11 cent-per-minute cap in 2015 to address what it calls "prohibitively high charges" on inmate calls.
Sheriff's Office: Swim Team Assault Was in Different County
SALINA, Kan. (AP) — The Saline County Sheriff's Office says an alleged sexual assault of a Great Bend High School swim team member didn't happen in Saline County, as originally reported, but in Barton County. Earlier this week the sheriff's office said the February 3 assault on the 15-year-old boy by a fellow swim team member happened while the bus was in Saline County after the team participated in a meet in Salina. The Salina Journal reports that on Friday, Captain Roger Soldan said investigators have determined the attack on the boy happened while the bus was in Barton County. The incident was one of two reported by members of the swim team. The other allegedly happened February 6 on a bus traveling through Ellsworth County after a swim meet in Manhattan.
Group Aligned with Big Tobacco Tops Kansas Lobbyist Spending
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A group affiliated with major tobacco companies spent more than all other organizations lobbying the Kansas state government last year, followed by an organization that opposed efforts to expand state liquor laws. A new report shows that Altria Client Services LLC, whose clients include Phillip Morris, led all organizations with just over $223,000 in spending. The Kansas Association for Responsible Liquor Laws, which fought efforts to expand sales of liquor, wine and full-strength beer to grocery and convenience stores, spent nearly $185,000 on that campaign. Lobbyists spent a total of $1.74 million last year to curry favor with state lawmakers. That's far higher than the nearly $1.2 million they spent in 2014 and more than the previous record of $1.4 million set in 2010.
Kansas Senate Measure Allows Prize-Linked Savings Accounts
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ The Kansas Senate has approved a measure that allows for so-called ``prize-linked savings accounts.'' Prize-linked accounts are already legal in 16 other states and offer raffle-like winnings to a certain number of depositors during a certain time period. Depending on how a program is set up, random winners could receive a few hundred dollars, or even a few thousand, while not risking any of their principal deposit. The current legislation would leave setting up the accounts to individual banks and credit unions, and would call on the state bank commissioner and credit union administrator to set the rules, while following some general guidelines under state law. The Wichita Eagle reports that the legislation approved by the Senate 40-0 on Tuesday now heads to the House.
Man Pleads Guilty in Rural Reno County Fires
SALINA, Kan. (AP) — A man serving almost six years in prison for setting fires to a vacant Salina motel has pleaded guilty to burning down a vacant house and a mobile home in rural Reno County. The Hutchinson News reports that Dustin J. Gordon pleaded guilty to one count of felony arson on Thursday. Gordon was accused of setting fire to a vacant two-story farmhouse and a mobile home used for storage on May 28, 2014. Reno County Senior Assistant District Attorney Stephen Maxwell said that both properties were destroyed. His sentencing hearing is set for April 8. Gordon was sentenced to 5 years and 10 months in prison in October after pleading no contest to charges related to fires set to the former Flamingo Motel in Salina in 2014.
Wichita Police Obtain Funds to Finish Body Camera Purchases
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita police officials say their department is receiving federal funds to complete its purchase of body cameras for its officers. The federal government on Friday informed the Wichita Police Department that it could spend $250,000 in matching funds for its Body Worn Camera Program. The money will be used to purchase cameras for the department's south and west patrols. When the program is fully implemented, 429 Wichita patrol officers will be outfitted with the equipment. Police Chief Gordon Ramsay said Friday the cameras will help boost accountability for the officers wearing them. The matching funds were made available through a policy and implementation program that's designed to give agencies already using body-worn cameras the money they need to expand their programs.
Kansas City to Celebrate Opening of New Streetcar Line
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City has announced the grand opening of the first streetcars in the city to carry passengers in nearly 60 years. City officials announced Thursday that a downtown street party would be held to celebrate the streetcars. The first passengers are set to board on May 6th, and a series of street parties along the route have been planned through the following day. The streetcar route connects the River Market, Central Business District, Crossroads Arts District, and Union Station and Crown Center areas. Kansas City's previous streetcar system shut down in 1957. The new system will have four vehicles, and three of them have already arrived. A city spokesman said that the fourth car is slated to arrive in late March.
Wichita State to Break Ground on Food Truck Plaza on Campus
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita State University is breaking ground next month on a food truck plaza. The Wichita Eagle reports that the plaza will be built on the edge of the new Innovation Campus development, adjacent to a planned pond. Plans call for it to be completed by June. University officials say the plaza will have four vendor stalls for food trucks with new lighting, sidewalks and seating areas. A contract with the university's vending company prohibits other food businesses from setting up on campus. But the university says the new Innovation Campus isn't covered by the contract. Most of Wichita's food trucks have agreed to take turns setting up at the park.
Police Say Missouri Teen Shot by Officers Left Suicide Note
BLUE SPRINGS, Mo. (AP) — Authorities say a teenager who was fatally shot by police in a Kansas City suburb had left a suicide note inside a home where he told police someone was trying to break in. Blue Springs police say they got a call shortly before 5 am Wednesday about a possible burglary in progress. When they arrived officers found a person matching the suspect description holding a knife. Police say the 16-year-old boy charged at officers with a knife and was fatally shot. They say the suicide note in the home indicated he planned to create a confrontation with police and had made the initial 911 call. The Missouri State Highway Patrol says the teen's name is not being released because he is a juvenile.
Exec, 2 Firms Plead Guilty to Mislabeling Cheese
PITTSBURGH (AP) — A woman and two western Pennsylvania cheese firms her family controls have pleaded guilty to mislabeling grated parmesan and romano that contained only other cheeses and filler made from wood pulp. A federal judge in Pittsburgh didn't immediately set a sentencing date for 44-year-old Michelle Myrter and her Slippery Rock companies, International Packing and Universal Cheese and Drying. Under the plea, each company will forfeit $500,000 and, according to her attorney, she's likely to receive probation. Myrter was charged with aiding and abetting the introduction of misbranded and adulterated food into interstate commerce. The law holds a company official responsible whether or not they knew about the wrongdoing. The FDA says the cheese was sold through Target stores and 3,400 stores supplied by Associated Wholesale Grocers of Kansas City, Kansas.
Royals Agree to Terms with 11 Players, Leaving 6 Unsigned
SURPRISE, Ariz. (AP) — The Kansas City Royals have agreed to terms with 11 players, including backup infielders Cheslor Cuthbert and Raul Mondesi Jr., leaving six unsigned players in spring training. The World Series champions announced the moves Thursday. Cuthbert will make $509,425 while in the major leagues this season. Relief pitcher Scott Alexander will make $508,800, and hard-throwing pitcher Miguel Almonte and speedy utility man Terrance Gore will make $508,500 apiece. Mondesi will make $507,500, along with outfielders Jorge Bonifacio, Brett Eibner, Jose Martinez and Bubba Starling, and pitchers Alec Mills and Kyle Zimmer — one of the club's top prospects. The remaining unsigned players are left-handers Brian Flynn and Matt Strahm, infielders Christian Colon and Ramon Torres and outfielders Reymond Fuentes and Paulo Orlando.