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Weekend Headlines for December 30-31, 2017

Police Blame Prankster for Wichita Shooting

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Police in Wichita say a prankster who lured police to a home in a "swatting" incident is responsible for a fatal officer-involved shooting. A 28-year-old man was fatally shot by an officer Thursday. Relatives have identified him as Andrew Finch. Deputy Police Chief Troy Livingston said at a news conference Friday that a prankster called 911 claiming to be an occupant of the home, saying he had shot his father and was holding his mother and a sibling hostage. When police showed up, Finch went to the front door. Livingston says that when Finch reached toward his waistband, an officer feared he had a gun and shot him. Livingston says Finch was unarmed and no one in the house was hurt. The practice of making a false report to get a SWAT team to a location is known as "swatting." It is most common among online gamers, but relatives say Finch was not a gamer.

Update: Man Arrested in Wichita "Swatting" Hoax

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Los Angeles police say they've arrested a man they suspect made a hoax phone call that resulted in a fatal police shooting in Kansas. Police in Los Angeles and Wichita confirmed in statements emailed Saturday the arrest of 25-year-old Tyler Barriss. Police did not provide any additional information on charges. Authorities haven't released the name of the man who was killed Thursday in Wichita. Relatives identified him as 28-year-old Andrew Finch. Police on Friday blamed a "prankster" who called 911 with a fake story about a shooting and kidnapping at the victim's address. A SWAT team responded. Barriss was convicted in 2016 on two counts of making a false bomb report to a TV station in California.

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Manhattan Staging New Year's Eve Ball Drop

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Thousands of New Year's Eve revelers are expected to turn out in the Kansas town known as the Little Apple for a ball-drop event modeled after the one in New York's Times Square. Manhattan is staging its annual New Year's Eve celebration in the Aggieville bar and entertainment district. Sunday's festivities begin at 10:30 p.m. and include music and fireworks. The event culminates at midnight with the "Little Apple" drop. It's reminiscent of the ball drop in the Big Apple, a Times Square tradition for more than a century. Last year's Aggieville festivities were marred by a technical glitch. The winch that drops the apple malfunctioned a few hours before the event and efforts to fix it were unsuccessful. That left the apple atop the pole at midnight.

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Dead Body Found in Burning Vehicle in Topeka

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Topeka police are investigating the suspicious death of a person whose body was found in a burning vehicle. Topeka police Lt. Aaron Jones told the Topeka Capital-Journal that firefighters noticed a person inside the burning vehicle while putting out the flames early Saturday morning. Jones said the person was already dead. Police are still trying to identify the body.

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Roberts, Moran: NAFTA Changes Could Hurt Kansas

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Both Republican senators in Kansas are expressing concerns that any major changes to the North American Free Trade Agreement could have a negative impact on the state's economy. Republican President Donald Trump has been a persistent critic of NAFTA. Senators Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran say they're open to improvements but agree that NAFTA needs to preserve or expand export opportunities. Kansas Public Radio reports that Moran said in a newsletter that withdrawing from the agreement would hurt farmers and ranchers, and cost the state jobs. Roberts says the U.S. economy has grown because of agreements such as NAFTA.

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ACLU Says Kansas School Boards' Rules Violate Free Speech

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The ACLU of Kansas argues that local school boards are violating free speech rights with policies that restrict negative public comments. The group is pushing the Shawnee Mission district in the Kansas City area to change a policy the ACLU views as especially restrictive. It requires speakers participating in open forums at meetings to make comments in a "positive" and "constructive way." Complaints against board members or employees can't be aired in the forums. Legal director Lauren Bonds said other districts have restrictions, including Topeka and Wichita. Bonds said the ACLU of Kansas is waiting for a response from the Shawnee Mission board after three new members take office in January. KCUR-FM reports there isn't a tally of how many of school boards prohibit speakers from airing grievances in public.

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KCK Foundation: Kansas Lawmakers Need Sexual Harassment Training

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Senate President Susan Wagle says training for lawmakers, employees and interns is the first step for the Legislature in addressing sexual harassment. Annual training for legislators, employees, interns and lobbyists was among the recommendations released Friday by the Women's Foundation. The Kansas City, Missouri-based foundation promotes gender equity and reviewed the Legislature's policy against sexual harassment. The current policy hasn't changed since 1994 and does not require regular training. Wagle said such training is a good place to start because education about sexual harassment is important. Wagle's and fellow legislative leaders were scheduled to review the proposals Friday afternoon. The Women's Foundation says the existing policy has "significant gaps." The foundation also is calling on the Legislature to have an independent, outside attorney review sexual harassment complaints.

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Wichita Man Sentenced in 2015 Sexual Assault of Runaways

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita man who was convicted of sexually assaulting two runaway girls in 2015 has been sentenced to more than 27 years in prison. The Wichita Eagle reports that 40-year-old Jordan Lewis was sentenced December 21st in Sedgwick County District Court. He was found guilty on several charges, including aggravated indecent liberties with a child and possession of marijuana with intent to distribute. Prosecutors say Lewis offered a ride in November 2015 to two teenage girls who'd run away from a group home before he pulled a gun on them. Prosecutors say he drove the girls to a house, where he and another man sexually assaulted them. Court records show 54-year-old Roderick Martin is also charged in the case. His trial on aggravated human trafficking and rape charges is set for February.

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Topeka Chief: Officer Names Will be Disclosed after Probe

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The interim police chief in Topeka says the names of the two officers involved in the fatal shooting of Dominique White will be disclosed when an internal police investigation is complete. Interim Chief Bill Cochran told the Topeka Capital-Journal that he expects the investigation to conclude by the end of next week. Both officers have been on paid leave since the September 28th shooting. The shooting of the 30-year-old black man has led to protests. Shawnee County District Attorney Mike Kagay announced Wednesday that he would not file criminal charges, declaring use of force reasonable based in part on body camera footage. An attorney for White's family says police did not need to use deadly force. Gillian Cassell-Stiga says the body camera footage shows White was running from police.

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Two Tractor-Trailer Drivers Die in Head-on Kansas Crash

SEVERY, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say two tractor-trailer drivers have died in a head-on crash in southeast Kansas. The Kansas Highway Patrol says the crash happened early Thursday about ten miles west of the small Greenwood County town of Severy. The patrol says 32-year-old Marcos Rodriguez-Reyes, of Wichita, was driving a tractor that was pulling two trailers when he crossed the center line of U.S. 400 for unknown reasons. His rig then collided head-on with a tractor-trailer being driven by 35-year-old Darin Kyle Surridge, of Parsons. Both men were killed.

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KC Man Charged with Shooting Wife, Running Her Over

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City man has been charged with fatally shooting his estranged wife and running her over with a car. 35-year-old Howard Tyrone Neely, of Kansas City, was charged Thursday with second-degree murder and armed criminal action in the December 16th killing of Joegina Davis. Bond is set at $250,000. No attorney is listed for him in online court records. Court records say a witness told police he was driving on a south Kansas City road when he saw Davis in the street. The witness said Davis told him that Neely shot and ran her over. She died at a hospital. Relatives told police Neely had abused Davis in the past. Prosecutors say a shell casing recovered from a September shooting in Kansas City, Kansas, linked Neely to both crimes.

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Soldier Flies to Wichita, Grandfather Attends Military Promotion

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A soldier stationed in Hawaii flew to Wichita for his military promotion so that his ailing grandfather could participate in the ceremony. The Wichita Eagle reports that Army nurse practitioner Jason Marquart was promoted to lieutenant colonel on December 27th in front of the Korean War Memorial in Veterans Memorial Park. He made special arrangements for the ceremony to take place in Wichita because his grandfather, Marvin Keeler, couldn't travel due to health complications. Keeler served as a Marine in Korea from 1951 to 1954. He participated in Marquart's promotion by pinning an insignia on his grandson's uniform. Marquart says Keeler is "my male role model in my life, and he's the only one I've had." Keeler says he's proud of how far his grandson has come.
 

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