Forecasters Warn of Severe Weather Outbreak in Central US
NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — Forecasters say a severe weather outbreak is possible Tuesday with powerful, long-track tornadoes and enormous hail predicted in some central and southern Plains states. The Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma, says the most dangerous weather is predicted for a 55,000-square-mile area stretching from northern Oklahoma to southern Nebraska, including the Oklahoma City area and Wichita. Forecasters say that area could see powerful winds, tornadoes and hail as large as baseballs or softballs on Tuesday afternoon and evening. In all, 24 million people are at a slight risk or higher of experiencing severe weather Tuesday in an area from San Antonio to Omaha, Nebraska. In the east, a separate storm system could bring thunderstorms, strong winds and hail to Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, D.C., but no outbreak is expected there.
Damage Reported in Sunday Storms Affecting Central, Northeastern KS
MUNDEN, Kan. (AP) — Storms with high winds and hail moved into central and northeast Kansas yesterday (SUN), prompting tornado warnings and injuring at least two people in Republic County. Joe Herrick, a dispatcher for Republic County emergency communications, said Sunday night that authorities are surveying storm damage in Munden, where at least one trailer home was destroyed. Herrick says two people who were storm spotting were taken to a hospital with injuries. It wasn't immediately clear how badly they were hurt. The National Weather Service plans to survey the area Monday. The storms passed through Ellsworth, Lincoln and Saline counties, where ping pong- to baseball-sized hail and a funnel cloud were reported. Emergency managers tell the Salina Journal there was no serious damage. More storms are expected in Kansas later this week.
UPDATE: FBI Agent Wounded in Kansas Gunfight Still Hospitalized
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — One of three federal agents injured during a fiery weekend shootout at a Kansas motel is still hospitalized, and authorities are trying to identify the body found inside the suspect's charred motel room. FBI spokeswoman Bridget Patton in Kansas City, Missouri, says the agent was in good condition Monday afternoon at an unspecified hospital. Two deputy federal marshals were treated at a hospital and release after Saturday night's confrontation in Topeka. The FBI says fugitive task force members trying to arrest robbery suspect Orlando J. Collins at the motel came under fire. A blaze then erupted in the room where authorities later found a body. Patton says a local fire marshal and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are investigating what caused the fire.
2 Federal Agents Wounded in Kansas Gunfight Leave Hospital
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Two of three federal agents injured during a fiery weekend shootout at a Kansas motel are out of the hospital, and authorities are trying to identify the body found inside the suspect's charred motel room. A spokeswoman for the U.S. Marshals Service's headquarters said Monday that two deputy marshals were treated and released after sustaining gunshot wounds during the Saturday night confrontation in Topeka. The FBI says an FBI agent also received non-life-threatening injuries, though that person's medical status was not immediately clear Monday. The FBI says members of a fugitive task force were trying to arrest 28-year-old robbery suspect Orlando J. Collins at the Country Club Motel when they came under fire. A fire then broke out in the room where authorities later found a body.
3 Federal Agents Injured During Shootout at Topeka Motel
TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) -- Shawnee County officials are trying to determine the identity of a body found in the charred debris of a burned-out Topeka motel. The Country Club Motel erupted in flames Saturday night, during a shootout with federal agents. The gunfight began when agents were trying to arrest a robbery suspect who was believed to be staying at the motel. The U.S. Marshal’s Fugitive Task Force was trying to capture 28-year-old Orlando Collins, an armed robbery suspect on the state’s Most Wanted list. Around 10 o’clock Saturday night, members of the task force approached the motel room where Collins was thought to be staying. Shots were fired from inside that room, wounding two deputy U.S. marshals and one FBI agent. At the same time, authorities say a fire was started inside the room, which spread to the rest of the motel, burning for hours and destroying much of the motel. Afterwards, in the same room where the suspect was believed to be holed-up, an unidentified body was discovered. Authorities are now trying to determine whether the body is that of the fugitive. The three injured federal agents are all expected to recover.
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say they found a body in a Kansas hotel room that erupted in flames during a shootout in which three federal agents were injured while trying to arrest a robbery suspect. The FBI said in a release Sunday that two deputy U.S. marshals and an FBI agent suffered non-life-threatening injuries Saturday night when they came under fire while trying to arrest 28-year-old Orlando J. Collins at the Topeka hotel. The FBI says during the gunfire, a fire broke out in the room where authorities later found an unidentified body. It didn't identify the body or say if Collins was arrested. Authorities said earlier four agents were injured. The FBI didn't specify the nature of the injuries and didn't immediately return calls seeking clarification about the change. This story has been corrected to reflect that the FBI says three federal agents were injured and that it was an FBI agent and two deputy U.S. marshals, not two U.S. marshals.
Pompeo Won't Seek US Senate Seat in Kansas
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — U.S. Representative Mike Pompeo says he is not running for U.S. Senate, ending speculation that he would mount a primary challenge to Senator Jerry Moran. The Kansas Republican said in a lengthy email Monday to supporters that he is filing for re-election to the House, saying the 85 remaining days before first votes are cast preclude him running the kind of Senate campaign he wants. He cited his consuming commitments in the House. Moran said in an emailed statement he looks forward with working with Pompeo and the Kansas delegation to improve the state and nation. Pompeo says he started exploring a potential Senate run over conflicting messages Moran sent out on the Supreme Court nominee. He also criticized the Republican establishment for pushing back once his possible candidacy became public.
Standard and Poor's Says Kansas Could See Credit Rating Drop
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A national credit rating service says there's at least a 50-50 chance it could lower Kansas's AA credit rating later this year, depending on how the Legislature handles the state's current budget crisis. The Kansas City Star reports that Standard and Poor's Rating Services said Monday it had placed Kansas on a "credit watch" because of the state's budget shortfall and concerns about Governor Sam Brownback's proposal for filling the gap. New revenue estimates for the state recently projected a $290 million budget shortfall through June 2017. Brownback spokeswoman Eileen Hawley says the governor has presented three options for the Legislature to consider in balancing the budget. The rating service says it will resolve the credit watch in 90 days, based on the Legislature's actions.
Returning Kansas Lawmakers Face Budget Shortfalls
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas legislators must close projected budget gaps totaling more than $290 million when they resume their annual session this week. And top Republicans aren't sure lawmakers will be tackling much else. The Legislature is scheduled to return Wednesday from its annual spring break. The leaders of its GOP supermajorities hope to remain in session for less than a week. A new, more pessimistic fiscal forecast issued last week slashed projected tax collections by a total of $348 million through June 2017. The new numbers created the projected shortfalls in the current and next budgets. The state constitution doesn't permit budget deficits. Kansas has struggled to balance its budget since Republican lawmakers slashed personal income taxes in 2012 and 2013 at GOP Governor Sam Brownback's urging to stimulate the economy.
ACLU: Two-Thirds of New Kansas Voter Registrations on Hold
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The American Civil Liberties Union contends voting rolls in Kansas are in "chaos" now because of the state's proof-of-citizenship requirements. It said in a recent court filing that an affidavit from the state elections director shows about two-thirds of new voter registration applications submitted during a three-week period in February have been put on hold because they did not provide proof of citizenship. Kansas's dual registration system is under multiple legal challenges in an election year, a time when registrations surge. Rulings are expected at any time in lawsuits unfolding in Kansas and in Washington, D.C. The state's primary election will take place in August.
Highway Project Delays Could Cause Safety Issues
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Motorists in parts of Kansas could be driving on congested or more dangerous roads in the future. The Kansas Department of Transportation says it plans to delay 25 scheduled large highway projects during the next two years as part of the state's efforts to balance its budget. Governor Sam Brownback issued three budget balancing proposals on Wednesday that would divert $185 million in sales tax revenues earmarked for highway projects to other government programs. The options come after a fiscal forecast that projected budget shortfalls in the 2016 and 2017 fiscal years of more than $290 million. The shift will delay 25 large highway projects through fiscal year 2019. The projects would have widened shoulders, flattened hills, straightened curves and added passing lanes and greater capacity to the highway system.
Man Found Guilty of Murder in Lawrence Throat-Stabbing
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A 34-year-old man has been convicted in the death of a Lawrence man who was found bleeding outside a fast-food restaurant. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that Joshaua Back was found guilty Friday of intentional second-degree murder in the May 2015 killing of Tracy Dean Lautenschlager. The jury also found Back guilty of felony theft. Authorities say Back stabbed Lautenschlager in the neck outside a Lawrence home. Lautenschlager was found bleeding in a McDonald's parking lot. He was pronounced dead at a hospital. Back fled in a truck that he told authorities he planned to steal as collateral for a drug debt. He was arrested two days later in Leavenworth County. The defense said the killing was an act of self-defense. Sentencing is scheduled for June 2.
2 Inmates Escape from Southeast Kansas Jail
GIRARD, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say two inmates have escaped from a southeast Kansas jail. The Pittsburg Morning Sun reports that Steven Ray Barnes and Shaun Steven Simpson broke out of the Crawford County Jail on Saturday. The Crawford County Sheriff's Office says they were last seen traveling south on foot from the jail in Girard. Authorities say they escaped by breaking a clamp on the outdoor recreation fence and then climbing the outer fence using a sweatshirt to cover the razor wire. Barnes was being held on parole violation on a theft conviction. Simpson was being held on kidnapping and driving with a suspended license. Authorities say they have possibly left the Girard area in a 1999 Chevy Trailblazer. Authorities are urging anyone with information to come forward.
Report: Kansas Wheat Heading, Corn Planting Makes Progress
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A government report shows the Kansas winter wheat crop is maturing at a faster rate than usual. The National Agricultural Statistics Service reported Monday that 23 percent of the state's wheat crop was already headed. That is ahead of the 15 percent that would be average for this time of year. It also rates wheat condition as 2 percent very poor, 9 percent poor and 36 percent fair. About 48 percent is rated as good and 5 percent as excellent. The agency also reported corn planting in the state is now at 43 percent, ahead of the 27 percent which would be average at this point in the season.
Wichita's Cessna Gets $14 Million Air Force Contract
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita aircraft company has won a $14 million Air Force contract. The Wichita Eagle reports the Air Force has awarded Textron Aviation Cessna the $14 million contract to supply the Pakistan army with six aircraft, as well as support and training. Two of the aircraft are to be modified for aeromedical uses. The Department of Defense says the Cessna work will be done in Wichita and is expected to be completed by December 30.
KCI Terminal Evacuated After Bomb Threat
KANSAS CITY, Mo.- Authorities at Kansas City International Airport say things are back to normal this morning after a bomb threat late last (SUN) night caused passengers to be evacuated from Terminal B. KCI Airport spokesman Joe McBride said the terminal was evacuated after an unidentified person said they had explosives in a vehicle outside the building. McBride said security personnel are investigating the origin of the threat. The Kansas City Bomb and Arson squad searched the building but found no threat and passengers were allowed to return to the terminal about 11:15 p.m.. McBride said several flights were delayed due to the incident.
Attorney General Opinion Casts Doubt on Wichita Slots
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas attorney general says any legislation that would allow Sedgwick County residents to cast another vote on allowing slot machines at the Wichita Greyhound Park would breach the Kansas Lottery's contract with the Kansas Star Casino in Mulvane. The Wichita Eagle reports Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said Friday the courts would likely block any law to allow a revote in Sedgwick County. In 2007, Sedgwick County voters rejected placing slot machines in the county and also rejected a destination casino. Sumner County residents approved a casino, leading to the opening of the Kansas Star Casino in 2011. Wichita Representative Mark Kahrs, who opposes gambling and requested Schmidt's opinion, says the opinion end debate on whether there should be a revote in Sedgwick County.
3-Month-Old Boy Shot in Hand While in Car in Kansas City
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City police are looking for suspects after a 3-month-old baby was shot in the hand while he was in a car with his mother. The Kansas City Star reports the baby's mother told police she was driving early Saturday when she heard gunshots. She pulled over and saw that her child had been shot in the right hand. The mother then drove her son to a hospital. Police say the car's rear passenger window had been broken out, and that a bullet had struck the rear quarter panel on the passenger side. No suspects have been identified.
Topeka Man Charged with Using Car to Drag Officer
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A 24-year-old Topeka man faces charges accusing him of dragging a police officer during a traffic stop. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Dyllon Alan Tucker is charged with aggravated kidnapping and other charges stemming from the incident April 14. Authorities said the officer stopped an SUV driven by Tucker, who then assaulted the officer and drove away, dragging the officer who had her arm in the car. As she was pulled down the street, the officer opened fire and wounded Tucker. The officer was treated at a hospital and released. The charges against Tucker were filed late Tuesday and became public Friday. It's unclear if Tucker has a lawyer. He's being held in the Shawnee County Jail on a $500,000 surety bond.
Olathe Neighborhood Water Tests Show No Elevated Lead Levels
OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — Officials in a Kansas City suburb say tests show there are no elevated lead levels in water in a neighborhood that showed potentially high levels earlier. The city of Olathe said in a news release Friday that tests conclusively show no elevated lead levels in the Ridgeview South neighborhood area water system. The Kansas City Star reports Olathe warned residents earlier this week of possible high lead levels in a water line that was replaced last summer. City officials said the test could be a false positive, but distributed bottled water to residents and conducted more tests on water from taps at 105 houses in the neighborhood. On Friday, the city announced that lab tests of 79 water samples showed no elevated lead. More tests are being conducted.
Colorado Woman Killed in Western Kansas Crash
JOHNSON, Kan. (AP) — A 45-year-old Colorado woman has died in a crash in southwestern Kansas. The Kansas Highway Patrol says Brenda Lasley of Springfield, Colorado, died Friday afternoon in the two-vehicle head-on crash in Stanton County. The patrol says the accident occurred when the vehicle Lasley was in crossed the center line and collided with a semi pulling a trailer. The Hutchinson News reports the semi driver was taken to a hospital for injuries sustained in the crash.
3-D Printers Design Engine of Replica Plane at Topeka Museum
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A University of Kansas professor has used 3-D printers to design an engine for a Topeka museum's replica of a World War I fighter plane. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Huw Thomas, an associate professor of industrial design at the university, took on the project after the Topeka Combat Air Museum acquired an 80 percent replica of a De Havilland 2 World War I fighter plane about a year ago. Three 3-D printers made dozens of parts with the same material as Lego bricks. Thomas used a substance similar to super glue to attach the pieces together. The 3-D replica rotary engine was placed onto the back of the aircraft Wednesday. It weighed a few pounds and was about 3 feet across and 14 inches wide.
Teacher Residency Program Comes to Kansas City Area Schools
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A group of nearly 40 men and women will join Kansas City area students in the classroom this fall as part of a new program designed to prepare aspiring teachers be effective urban educators. The Kansas City Star reports that the 39 students will be a part of the Kansas City Teacher Residency, which was launched this year with a $1.2 million federal grant. The program is modeled off of medical residencies. In the first year of the program, the students receive $25,000 while in residence. They teach full time and finish their degrees in the second year. The first class was chosen from 130 applications and consists of some recent education school graduates, along with others with bachelor's degrees who are seeking a career change.
Embezzler's Vehicles to Be Auctioned in Kansas City
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A fleet of two dozen expensive cars and motorcycles seized from a Kansas City-area accountant who defrauded more than $4 million from clients is heading for the auction block. The U.S. Marshals Service says the 25 machines up for bidding at noon Thursday include Thomas Hauk's former Ford Mustang Cobra Jet, Ferrari 430 Scuderia, Ford GT, Mosler MT900S and McLaren 12C. A dozen Ducati motorcycles also will be sold during the auction at KCI Auto Auction in Kansas City, Missouri. That's where potential buyers can preview the items from 9 am to 4 pm Wednesday. Hauk, of Overland Park, Kansas, awaits sentencing after pleading guilty last December to federal fraud charges linked to his on-the-job theft at a financial services company.