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Headlines for Monday, June 21, 2021

Chief: Prognosis Improves for Wichita Officer Who Was Shot

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Wichita Police Chief Gordon Ramsay says an officer who was shot during the weekend remains in critical but stable condition and his prognosis is improving. Ramsey said Monday the officer, a five-year veteran, was shot in the head and legs. His family has asked the officer's name not be released. He was shot and a suspect was killed while officers were checking on the welfare of a woman and her daughter Saturday night. Investigators say the woman's boyfriend, 28-year-old Tyler Hodge, ignored commands to put down a gun when officers found him in a shed. Hodge fired 18 shots. Police say officers fired back and Hodge was hit once, killing him.

(Earlier reporting...)

Wichita Shootout Leaves Officer in Critical Condition, Suspect Dead

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Authorities say a Kansas police officer is in critical condition and the person who fired at police is dead after a shootout in Wichita. Two police officers were checking on the welfare of a 32-year-old woman and her 13-year-old daughter at a home in south Wichita Saturday night when the shooting began. Wichita Deputy Police Chief Jose Salcido said officers found the woman's boyfriend, 28-year-old Tyler Hodge, hiding in a shed in the backyard with a rifle. Hodge ignored commands to put the gun down before he opened fire. One officer was struck several times as Hodge fired 18 rounds. Police returned fire, and Hodge was struck once. He died at the scene.  

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Kansas City Carjacking Suspect Dies in Gun Battle with Police

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) - A carjacking suspect is dead after an exchange of gunfire with police in Kansas City, Kansas. Police did not identify the suspect who was killed Sunday but say he was a 25-year-old man. Police say the armed carjacking happened Thursday in Kansas City, Kansas. Officers in Kansas City, Missouri, on Sunday spotted a vehicle that matched the description and a pursuit began. The pursuit went into Kansas City, Kansas, and ended when the suspect's vehicle crashed. Police say video footage from body and in-car cameras show the suspect shot at police, who returned fire. The man died at a hospital.

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KBI: Remains Found in April Identified as El Dorado Man

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Authorities say remains found in April in northeast Kansas have been identified as an El Dorado man. The KBI says DNA evidence confirmed the body was that of 40-year-old Waylon Fort, of El Dorado. The remains were found April 26 east of Beloit along the Mitchell and Cloud County line. The KBI says investigators did not find evidence of foul play. Fort was last seen in January near Beloit, while he was fleeing on foot from a traffic stop.

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Body Found in Topeka Park; Foul Play Not Suspected
 
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Police in Topeka are investigating after a man's body was discovered in a park. Police say foul play is not suspected. WIBW-TV reports that officers were called shortly after 5 am today (MON) to Chesney Park. The body was in a seated position at a picnic table beneath a lighted gazebo. The cause of death remains under investigation.

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Kansas House Democrat Resigns Her Overland Park Seat

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) - A Democratic state representative from Overland Park has resigned after serving just one year in the Legislature. Jennifer Day announced her resignation today (MON). She won the seat in May 2020 by only 62 votes. A spokeswoman said Day was resigning because she is moving out of the district. The Democratic precinct committee in her district will appoint a replacement to fill her unexpired term. Republican Terry Frederick, who lost to Day in November, has already filed to run for the seat again next year. Day is the third Democrat in the Kansas House to resign this year.

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New Kansas Firefighting Team Deployed Out of State

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) - A brand new Kansas wildfire fighting team is on its first out-of-state assignment and officials say it's a trip that will ultimately benefit Kansans. The 10-person team of firefighters from the Kansas Forest Service is positioned in South Dakota near the Black Hills National Forest, where record-breaking temperatures and drought have created a severe fire risk. The team will help fight any fires that might pop up, but can also help protect properties and reduce excess vegetation in high risk areas. The leader of the group, Chris Hanson, says the assignment will provide much needed real-world experience. Hanson says the group can then use that experience to help fight Kansas wildfires and teach other local firefighters. The creation of the unit is among several improvements the Kansas Forest Service has made in the wake of the state’s largest wildfires that burned in south-central Kansas in 2016 and 2017. The Kansas team could be in South Dakota for the next three weeks.

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12-Year-Old Boy Injured in Branson Roller Coaster Accident

BRANSON, Mo. (AP) _ Two state inspectors are trying to determine how a 12-year-old boy was badly injured in an accident at a roller coaster attraction in Branson. The accident happened Sunday night at The Branson Coaster. A city spokeswoman says the child was "trapped on the ride with what appeared to be serious injuries.'' A Facebook posting from the Branson Professional Firefighters Local Union said the boy was trapped beneath the coaster. No further details were released. The child was flown by helicopter to a hospital in Springfield.

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11 Injured in Accident Near Branson

HOLLISTER, Mo. (AP) - Eleven people have been treated for mostly minor injuries after a shuttle bus and a car collided. The Missouri State Highway Patrol says the accident happened early this (MON) morning in Taney County, in the Branson area. Two passengers on the bus were treated for moderate injuries. The other passengers and both drivers suffered minor injuries. The patrol says the bus was turning onto Highway 86 and was struck by a Ford Mustang. All of the bus passengers were from Branson. The bus driver is from Holiday Hills, Arkansas, and the Mustang driver is from Ridgedale, Missouri.  

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Kansas Orders COVID-19 Tests to Continue in Adult Care Facilities

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR/KNS) - The Kansas Department of Health and Environment has issued an order requiring continued COVID-19 testing in all adult care facilities. Governor Laura Kelly directed Dr. Lee Norman, the secretary of the department, to issue the order to continue testing, even after the end of the state's disaster declaration. Facility staff who have been vaccinated will not be required to get tested, and the state strongly encourages all employees to get vaccinated. The order took effect immediately.

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Missouri Leads Nation in Highest Rate of New COVID Cases

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) _ Missouri now leads the nation with the highest rate of new COVID-19 infections as vaccinations lag. One person in every 1,349 people in the state was diagnosed with COVID-19 from June 13 to Sunday. Missouri health officials say the north-central and southwest part of the state are driving the surge. While more than 53% of the population of Americans have initiated vaccination, most southern and northern Missouri counties are well short of 40%. And a handful of southern Missouri counties have fewer than 20% of residents vaccinated.

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Kansas Judge Finds CDC Eviction Moratorium Unenforceable

SHAWNEE, Kan. (AP) - A Kansas judge is beginning to evict tenants who are behind on rent in advance of a federal moratorium expiring at the end of the month. Johnson County Magistrate Judge Daniel Vokins said during a Zoom eviction hearing this week that he doesn't think the moratorium that was issued last year by the the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and expires at the end of the month, is enforceable. Census data shows more than 4 million people nationally say they fear being evicted or foreclosed upon in the coming months. Kansas also had its own eviction moratorium, but it expired on May 28.

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Summer Classes Move Online for Some Students Due to COVID

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. (AP) - Summer classes have moved online for some St. Joseph, Missouri elementary and middle school students because of COVID-19 cases. The St. Joseph News-Press reports that Robidoux and Pershing schools will conduct classes virtually through July 1, when summer school ends. Gabe Edgar, the district's assistant superintendent, described the move as a "precautionary measure."  Only about  20%, of eligible residents have received the COVID-19 vaccine in Buchanan County, where St. Joseph is located. That's below the statewide average of 37%. The vaccine is generally available to all people 12 and older. 

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Survey: Kansas Doctors Reporting Pandemic Burnout

WICHITA, Kan. (KNS) - New research shows the stress and exhaustion caused by the pandemic took a toll on physicians in Kansas. Just over half of family doctors in a survey showed at least one sign of professional burnout. Samuel Ofei-Dodoo, a professor at the University of Kansas School of Medicine in Wichita. led the study. He says severe and chronic stress can push doctors out of the profession. It can also cause depression and worse. “Fatigue, dependency on alcohol and drugs." Ofei-Dodoo said. "It can also cause marital problems and perhaps the most serious one, suicide.” Doctors who had treated COVID patients were four times as likely to report signs that they were struggling. Signs of burnout in the study included physicians feeling emotionally exhausted and like they weren’t really helping their patients.

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Permanent Fence Installed at Kansas Governor's Mansion

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Workers are installing a permanent metal fence around the Kansas governor's mansion in Topeka. The state said the fence is part of security upgrades at Cedar Crest. The decision comes as more protests are being held near the mansion but Governor Laura Kelly's office said no specific threat prompted the decision to install the fence. The enhanced security comes after a federal Department of Homeland Security assessment of the property early this year. Previously, the governor's mansion had a gate restricting vehicles from entering but only a wooden fence encircling the property.

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Study: Female Soldiers at Increased Risk of Sexual Assault at Fort Riley, Other Bases

WASHINGTON (AP) — A new study finds that female soldiers at Army bases in Kansas, Texas, Colorado, and Kentucky face a greater risk of sexual assault and harassment than those at other posts, accounting for more than a third of all active duty Army women sexually assaulted in 2018. Fort Riley in Kansas is among the posts with higher risks for female soldiers. The study by Rand Corp. says female soldiers at Fort Hood and Fort Bliss, both in Texas, faced the highest risk, particularly those in combat commands or jobs such as field artillery and engineering. And units with more frequent deployments to war also saw higher risk. Other bases with high risk were Fort Campbell in Kentucky, and Fort Carson in Colorado.

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Surveillance Video Captures Babies Being Abused at Day Care

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) - Newly released court records say surveillance video has captured a suburban Kansas City day care worker abusing babies more than 170 times, including by shaking and slapping them. Twenty-four-year-old Rachel Beth Schrader is on house arrest after she was charged earlier this month in Johnson County District Court with four counts of child abuse. The affidavit describes her kicking a child square in the chest in one instance, causing him to fall backward and smack his head. In a police interview, Schrader acknowledged "losing her patience" on Mar. 26, but said that was the only time. Her attorney didn't immediately return a phone message from The Associated Press on Saturday seeking comment.

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Study: Infant Deaths Decline in Kansas but Black Babies Still More Likely to Die

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) —In Kansas, Black babies are twice as likely as white babies to die in their first year. Overall, infant mortality is decreasing in Kansas but stillbirths and deaths soon after birth remain more common for Black babies. Researchers say enduring lifelong discrimination and the physical effects of related stress heighten the risk for Black women of losing a baby.

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Victim in Late Teens Shot, Killed in Kansas City, Kansas

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) - Authorities say a victim in his late teens has been shot and killed in Kansas City, Kansas. Officers responded early Saturday morning to a shooting call at a home. Police said the victim was pronounced dead at the scene. Police didn't immediately release the teen's name or a suspect description. The killing is the 15th homicide of 2021 in the city.

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Wichita Police Search for Suspect in Fatal Shooting

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Wichita police are searching for a suspect in a shooting that killed one person and left another critically injured. Officers called to a home in northeast Wichita Sunday found 47-year-old Deandre Freeman dead from several gunshot wounds. A 53-year-old man at the home who was also shot was hospitalized in critical condition. Investigators determined a disturbance broke out between the men and the suspect fired several shots. He said those involved knew each other and it was not a random shooting.  

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Parents, Kids Become Ill After Visiting Water Park in Goddard

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - A splash park at a wildlife attraction in the Wichita area has closed after health officials reported illness concerns and several families said their children became sick after visiting the site. Tanganyika Wildlife Park's Director Matt Fouts said in a Facebook post that he decided to close the attraction after discussions with the Sedgwick County Health Department. He said the park in Goddard is working to fix a filtration system problem, Cameron Vandusen said his 4-year-old daughter, Kennedy, was hospitalized Saturday after she started throwing up. Four other family members who went to the splash park Friday were also throwing up and having diarrhea on Saturday.

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Two Officers Charged with Assault Involved in Earlier Shooting

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Two Kansas City police officers who are facing assault charges and several lawsuits stemming from a 2019 arrest were also involved in an earlier shooting. The Kansas City Star reports that newly released records show that Officers Charles Prichard and Matthew Brummett were involved in a January 2019 shooting during an arrest in which a man was wounded after reaching for one of the officers' guns. That 2019 shooting was reviewed by an internal panel earlier this year that didn't recommend any action against the officers. Police department officials declined to comment last week on the officers' conduct. 

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KC Mayor Joins Group Committed to Reparations Projects

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP/KPR) — Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas joined with ten other U.S. mayors pledging to pay reparations for slavery to a small group of Black residents in their cities. Mayors Organized for Reparations and Equity (MORE) have committed to form commissions to advise them on how to develop the programs. Once they can identify funding, the mayors say they will develop and implement programs to pay reparations to a “cohort of Black residents.” The mayors, who represent big cities and the tiny town of Tullahassee, Oklahoma, say their goal is to set an example for the federal government on how a nationwide program could operate. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock are leading the group.

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Kansas Prosecutor Resigns Posts Amid Misconduct Allegations

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas prosecutor accused of misleading juries in two cases has resigned from her positions in Bourbon and Allen counties, just weeks after a disciplinary panel recommended she be disbarred. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Jacqie Spradling stepped down earlier this (JUNE) month as assistant county attorney in Allen County. She also is leaving her position as the county attorney in Bourbon County, effective June 30. A state disciplinary board unanimously recommended to the Kansas Supreme Court earlier this month that she be disbarred, citing her "win at all costs" attitude in a 2012 double homicide case and a 2016 rape and sodomy case. Appeals courts tossed out the convictions.

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Archdiocese: 2002 Exoneration of Former Kansas Priest 'Inaccurate'

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (KPR) - A former Catholic priest who had been exonerated of sexual abuse allegations almost twenty years ago is now being named as a "substantiated" offender. The Kansas City Star reports that the Archdiocese of Kansas City, Kansas, made that announcement in Friday's issue of its newspaper, The Leaven. In a statement, the Archdiocese said former priest William Haegelin is now listed under its category of "Substantiated Allegations of Clergy Sexual Abuse of a Minor." Haegelin’s name had previously been placed under the category “Previously Publicized Allegations Not Able to Be Substantiated,” Haegelin served in several parishes in northeast Kansas, including KCK, Leavenworth, and Prairie Village. According to the Archdiocese's website, the estimated timeframe of abuse was 1983 to 1984. Haegelin was removed from ministry in 2002 and laicized in 2004. The archdiocese did not explain in its new statement why it had changed the finding to “substantiated.”

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EXPLAINER: Why is Missouri Fighting Federal Gun Rules?

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) - Missouri is clashing with the Justice Department over a new law banning police from enforcing federal gun rules. The Justice Department this week warned Missouri that the law could strain relationships between federal and local law enforcement. But Missouri's Republican governor and attorney general say they'll still enforce the new law. Federal and Missouri gun laws are almost all the same. Republican state lawmakers say they passed the bill because of concerns about new gun rules under Democratic President Joe Biden. Other states passed similar legislation. But so far, the Justice Department has only sent a warning letter to Missouri.

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Kansans Celebrate Juneteenth 

LAWRENCE, Kan. (KPR) - Kansans turned out to celebrate Juneteenth over the weekend. Kansas City Juneteenth held a kick-off party at Union Station Saturday and a Juneteenth Festival Sunday. Saturday's Kansas City Royals game featured the song known as the Black national anthem, "Lift Every Voice and Sing." A Juneteenth Virtual event was held in Lawrence Sunday and Topeka held a Juneteenth parade and a celebration Sunday. The Emporia Gazette reports that residents celebrated the first known Juneteenth event in that city on Saturday.

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Merchants Report Shortage of Fireworks as Independence Day Approaches

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KNS) - Consumer fireworks are in short supply this summer, and some shoppers could face empty shelves by Independence Day. Customers cleaned out fireworks inventory last year, and some fireworks dealers say they can’t keep up with demand this year. Supply chain snags have tripled the time it takes to get fireworks from Chinese ports to US stores. Mike Collar President of Winco Fireworks says the delays will short fireworks sellers by about 30%. "I think you'll see some tents not open because you're not going to have the merchandise." Collar said. On positive side, the fireworks shortage should decrease fireworks-related injuries.

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Kansas Public Radio Aims for More Sustaining Members

LAWRENCE, Kan. (KPR) - After getting a $216,000 budget cut from the University of Kansas, Kansas Public Radio is hoping to make up the difference by holding a special two-day, on-air fund drive later this month. KPR's goal is to increase membership by 300 new or upgrading sustainers. Sustainers are donors who sign up for automatic monthly contributions to the radio station. The recent budget cut from KU is the largest in the 69-year history of the station and represents about 70% of the station's annual funding from the university. The on-air portion of KPR's two-day fund drive begins Thursday, June 24, but fundraising is already underway. KPR supporters have pooled their money to create a $30,000 matching grant when KPR receives 300 new or upgrading sustainers during the month of June. Those wanting to become KPR listener-members can join anytime by making a pledge.

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