Kansas Supreme Court Upholds GOP Drawn Congressional Map
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas' highest court has upheld a Republican redistricting law that makes it harder for the only Democrat in the state's congressional delegation to win reelection. The state Supreme Court refused to declare for the first time that the Kansas Constitution forbids overly partisan gerrymandering. Democrats argued that the map was drawn to help Republicans unseat Democratic Congresswoman Sharice Davids in the 3rd District in the Kansas City area, while Republicans called it a fair map. It split the Kansas City area between two districts and put Lawrence in the 1st District with central and western Kansas. (Read the initial ruling.)
Missouri Governor Signs Off on New U.S. House Map Favoring Republicans
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri Governor Mike Parson has signed new U.S. House districts into law to be used beginning with this year's elections. The new districts are expected to continue Republicans' 6-2 advantage over Democrats in the state's congressional delegation. The plan attempts to shore up Republican strength in the 2nd District in suburban St. Louis — the only relatively competitive district. Missouri is one of the final few states to enact new congressional districts based on the 2020 census. That's because Republicans who control the Legislature had squabbled among themselves over how aggressively to try to draw the map in their favor.
Lawrence Police Identify Victims Involved in Fatal "Road Rage" Shooting at Hy-Vee Parking Lot
LAWRENCE, Kan. (KPR/LJW) – Police have identified the two victims of a fatal "road rage" shooting that took place in a Lawrence grocery store parking lot Tuesday night. The two men involved in the shooting were identified as 22-year-old Zachary Michael Sutton and 53-year-old Monty Ray Amick, both of Lawrence. Investigators believe the initial interaction between the occupants of two vehicles occurred near 23rd and Harper. The vehicles then traveled west on 23rd Street where a confrontation occurred near 23rd and Iowa Street. After the confrontation, the vehicles continued west on Clinton Parkway where the incident culminated in the shooting at the Hy-Vee parking lot (3504 Clinton Parkway). Police say Sutton was reportedly a passenger in a 2006 White Ford F-150 Pickup truck and Amick was the driver and sole occupant of a 2007 Blue Nissan XTerra (SUV). Investigators believe a "road rage" encounter led to the fatal shooting. Police are asking anyone who observed the altercation at 23rd and Iowa Street or the shooting at the Hy-Vee parking lot to call the Lawrence Police Department at (785) 830-7430. (Read more in the Lawrence Journal-World.)
Kansas Police: Road Rage Led to Fatal Parking Lot Shootout
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Police in Lawrence say a prolonged road rage incident involving two vehicles led to a shootout in a grocery store parking lot that killed two men. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the incident happened Tuesday night when the driver of a sport utility vehicle and the occupants of a pickup truck interacted and argued over the truck's loud tailpipe. Police say the interaction went on for several miles before both vehicles whipped into the parking lot, nose-to-nose, and the SUV driver and a passenger in the truck exchanged gunfire. Police say the truck passenger, 22-year-old Zachary Sutton, and the SUV driver, 53-year-old Monty Ray Amick, both died from their injuries.
Lawrence Police: Former KU Soccer Goalie Killed; Husband Charged
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Police say a former University of Kansas soccer goalie has been killed and her husband has been charged with first-degree murder in her death. Police say officers found 25-year-old Regan Noelle Gibbs fatally wounded Monday night at her apartment in Lawrence. Police say her husband, 26-year-old Chad Joseph Marek, was arrested at the scene. Investigators believe Gibbs death was likely the result of domestic violence, but police have not said how she was killed. Gibbs was a goalkeeper for the Jayhawks’ soccer program from 2015 to 2018. The Kansas City Star reports that Marek appeared in Douglas County District Court on Tuesday. His bond is set at $1 million.
Six Teens Accused of Murder Following Botched Drug Deal in Olathe
OLATHE, Kan. (KMBC) - Six teenagers are each facing a first-degree murder charge after a botched drug deal in Kansas. KMBC TV reports that four 14-year-olds and a pair of 13-year-olds were arrested Tuesday in connection with the shooting death of 19-year-old Marco Cardino on May 14. The Johnson County District Attorney’s Office did not identify the teens due to their ages. Prosecutors have filed a motion to try the group of 14-year-olds as adults. Authorities believe the shooting stemmed from a drug deal gone sideways. Olathe police officers were called to Black Bob Park around 4 am after gunshots were heard in the area. Cardino was pronounced dead at the scene with multiple gunshot wounds, according to Olathe police. Originally, four teens were in custody connected to the slaying, but police say two more teens were later taken into custody.
Vice President Kamala Harris Meets with Abortion Providers from Kansas and Missouri as Court Ruling Looms
WASHINGTON (AP) — Vice President Kamala Harris spoke with abortion providers from states with some of the nation’s strictest restrictions on the procedure Thursday. She said they are “on the front lines of this war on women’s rights.” The virtual meeting included providers from Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas, Missouri and Montana. It comes weeks after the release of a draft Supreme Court opinion suggesting that justices are on the brink of overturning the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion nationwide. A final ruling is expected in the next six weeks, but those states and others are already laying the groundwork to ban abortion outright.
Kansas Troopers Report Big Increase in Motorists Driving More than 100 MPH
WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) - Tickets for drivers speeding in excess of 100 miles-per-hour (mph) have nearly doubled in the last two years, according to the Kansas Highway Patrol. KAKE TV reports that the patrol issued more than 3,300 tickets last year, up from around 1,700 in 2019. The uptick in motorists driving faster than 100 mph may not be limited to Kansas. KAKE TV also reports that an Oklahoma driver was recently handed a $449 ticket for driving 90 mph over the speed limit. The Oklahoma Highway Patrol said a trooper stopped a Dodge Challenger Hellcat going 165 mph on the H.E. Bailey Turnpike, a toll road in the southwest region of the state, where the speed limit is 75. Motorists who see any unsafe driving on Kansas highways are asked to dial *47 to report it to the highway patrol.
Invasive Jumping Worms Spreading Across Kansas, Missouri, other Midwestern States
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (WDAF) — A species of wiggling worms can jump a foot in the air, and they’ve spread to more than a dozen states in the Midwest, including Kansas and Missouri. WDAF TV reports that the jumping worm, also known as Alabama jumpers, snake worms and other names, are invasive earthworms, originally native to east Asia. They thrash wildly when disturbed, have snakelike movements and sometimes shed their tail in defense, according to the Missouri Department of Conservation. These worms have experts increasingly worried as they spread across the country. The U.S. Forest Service says Asian jumping worms eat a lot. “They are never satiated,” the agency writes. And in the end, after feeding their unending appetites, the Missouri Department of Conservation says established populations of jumping worms can make the soil look like coffee grounds. That soil won’t be able to retain moisture, and Smithsonian Magazine reports the topsoil will be depleted of nutrients, making it difficult for plants to grow. To make matters worse, jumping worms grow twice as fast and reproduce more quickly than other earthworms, a Cornell University study says. The worm’s tiny eggs can even survive a Midwest winter. (Read more.)
Right to Film Cops Weighed by U.S. Court Overseeing 6 States
DENVER (AP) — The U.S. government is asking the appeals court overseeing four western and two Midwestern states to recognize that the First Amendment guarantee of free speech gives people the right to film police as they do their work in public. If the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals agrees, officers could be sued for interfering with people trying to record them. Six of the 12 U.S. appeals courts have recognized that right, but the 10th Circuit hasn't. The court heard arguments Wednesday in the case of a YouTube journalist and blogger who says he was blocked by a suburban Denver officer from recording a 2019 traffic stop. The United States Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit covers Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah, and Wyoming.
Weather Service Confirms Weak Tornadoes in Kansas, Nebraska
GOODLAND, Kan. (AP/KPR) — The National Weather Service has confirmed a series of weak tornadoes across rural parts of northwestern Kansas and a county in southwestern Nebraska along the Kansas line. The tornadoes hit Tuesday afternoon as a line of storms moved across the Plains. National Weather Service meteorologist Ed Holicky, in Goodland, says spotters and video confirmed separate tornadoes in Decatur, Norton and Gove counties in Kansas and an one in Red Willow County in Nebraska. Holicky says there were no reports of injuries or damage from the tornadoes. The system brought gusty winds, heavy rain and some hail, leading to downed tree limbs some roof damage across the region.
Elsewhere, powerful storms in northeast Kansas knocked out power to about 5,500 people in Shawnee County Tuesday night. The National Weather Service in Topeka says a line of thunderstorms swept through the area, bringing hail, high winds and heavy rain to the greater Topeka area. The capital city was drenched by 1.28 inches of rain between 9:53 and 10:53 pm. Hail one inch in diameter was reported both at Silver Lake and four miles southwest of Meriden, while 60 mph winds were reported south/southeast of Silver Lake. Power had been restored to most customers by Wednesday morning. No tornadoes were known to have touched down in northeast Kansas, though an emergency manager reported seeing a funnel cloud five miles west of Junction City.
Two Gunshot Victims Found Near University of Missouri-Kansas City Campus
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KC STAR) - Two people were taken to the hospital with injuries believed to be non-life-threatening after a car was fired upon while driving through Kansas City’s South Plaza neighborhood (near 51st and Oak streets) Wednesday evening. The Kansas City Star reports that the University of Missouri-Kansas City shared a series of alerts detailing the shooting, including one that warned of an active shooter on or near the campus. Further updates from UMKC said there was no threat to the campus and that the shooting appeared to have unfolded off campus. UMKC police officers were first to respond to the shooting scene around 6 pm Wednesday after the victims pulled into the parking lot of a nearby Whole Foods. Two gunshot victims were found inside the car and taken by ambulance to the hospital. The victims were shot by a pedestrian as they were traveling south on Oak Street. The suspected shooter remains at large.
Kansas City Man Behind Bars After Deputies Wrestle Him Away from 2-Year-Old
BALDWIN CITY, Kan. (WIBW) - A Kansas City man is behind bars in Douglas County after deputies wrestled a 2-year-old away from him as he was headed into a garage with a firearm following a domestic dispute. WIBW TV reports that deputies responded to a domestic disturbance call in Baldwin City early Wednesday morning. Deputies say a woman alleged that a man, later identified as 21-year-old Maurice McKay Edwards, of Kansas City, Kansas, beat her and held a gun to her head during an argument. She had indicated two children were present and that the man had gone inside the home’s detached garage with one child. When they arrived, deputies say they found the man leaving the garage holding a 2-year-old child. They said they repeatedly ordered him to let the child go. One deputy was able to pin the man against the garage wall and free the child. Later, during a search of the home, deputies say they found a gun in a box in the garage. Edwards was arrested on charges of aggravated assault, domestic battery and two counts of child endangerment. Edwards made his first court appearance Wednesday afternoon and has been scheduled for a preliminary hearing on May 24.
Tip from Kansas City Police Leads to Body Found Inside Southeast Kansas Home
COFFEYVILLE, Kan. (FOX23/KPR) — Multiple law enforcement agencies are investigating after a man’s body was found inside a home in Coffeyville. FOX23 News in Tulsa reports that officers checked out the home Monday morning after receiving a tip from police in Kansas City, who had received a tip that a dead body could be found inside the home. Coffeyville police officers found a man, identified as 61-year-old David A. Jackson, walking outside the home. Jackson was questioned before officers entered the home. Inside, officers found the body of 47-year-old Melvin Simpson, Junior. Simpson had been shot to death. Jackson was arrested on unrelated charges. Officers with the Coffeyville Police Department, the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, and the Kansas Bureau of Investigation are all investigating. Anyone with information is asked to call (620) 252-6160 or the KBI at 1-800-KS-CRIME.
Kansas Students Will Soon Be Able to Attend Any School in the State
TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS/KCUR) - Students in Kansas will soon be able to attend any public school in the state, no matter where they live. Governor Laura Kelly signed the open enrollment bill Monday. Starting in the 2024-2025 school year, students will be able to attend any public school within the state, as long as the district has capacity. Supporters of the change say it will give families stuck in struggling school districts a chance at sending their kids to better schools. The Blue Valley and Olathe School District released a joint statement on their concerns after the bill was first introduced. They said the bill would force local taxpayers to pay for non-resident students and would further limit resources for local students. The bill also included more than $6 billion for the state’s public schools.
Report: Rural Kansas Airports at Risk of Closing
HAYS, Kan. (KNS) - A nationwide pilot shortage has put some rural Kansas airports in danger of losing their only commercial airline carrier. The Kansas News Service reports that the uncertainty is already affecting local economies. For Kansans living in Liberal, Dodge City and Hays, there’s only one airline that flies to and from the local airport: SkyWest. So when that airline filed paperwork this spring to terminate services, it sent shock waves through these communities. Liberal area economic development director Eli Svaty says small towns like his still need air service — and not just for the convenience of travelers, but to draw the new businesses and workers that grow the local economy. “Not to say that you lose the airport, you lose the town. But it is critical that… we find something that can assure people that it's okay to live out here in rural Kansas because we still have great air service," he said. For now, the federal government is forcing SkyWest to continue some service to these towns while the airports try to find a replacement airline.
New U.S. Hospitals Face Fiscal Crisis over COVID Relief Money
THOMASVILLE, Ala. (AP) — A handful of U.S. hospitals are facing a financial crisis that officials say was caused by the federal government's rules for pandemic relief money. A trio of hospitals in Alabama, Kansas and New Mexico say they're not getting as much assistance as other hospitals because they're so new they can't prove financial losses from before the pandemic. In rural southwest Alabama, Thomasville Regional Medical Center says it's in danger of closing after just two years. Like Thomasville Regional, Rock Regional Hospital in Derby, Kansas, saw revenues dry up soon after opening, said Barry Beus, the hospital CEO. It’s still experiencing staff shortages because of the pandemic and having to pay a premium to travel nurses to work shifts on the wards, he said, all while working with consultants and members of Congress just trying to stay afloat. Three Crosses Regional Hospital opened in 2020 in Las Cruces, New Mexico, and piled up a staggering $16.8 million in losses in just three quarters while receiving only $28,000 in aid, said Landon Fulmer, a Washington lobbyist working with all three hospitals to obtain additional funding. Federal health officials say all three hospitals have gotten some money from the CARES Act, and no health providers are getting all their losses reimbursed.
U.S. Senate Approves Overhaul of Baby Formula Rules in Aid Program
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate has approved a bill aimed at easing the baby formula shortage for families participating in a government assistance program known as WIC. That program accounts for about half of all formula purchases in the U.S. The House had passed the bill the day before, so it now goes to President Joe Biden to be signed into law. The vouchers can generally only be used to purchase one brand of infant formula, which encourages the manufacturer to offer big discounts to secure a state’s business. The bill makes it possible for families to redeem the WIC vouchers for whatever formula brand is available.
*** Click here to see the Kansas Department of Health and Environment list of infant formulas that can be purchased with Kansas WIC benefits.
*** Click here to see a KDHE list of WIC-eligible infant formula substitutions.
Kansas Senator Questions FDA Regarding National Baby Formula Shortage
TOPEKA, Kan. (KOAM) – Kansas Republican Senator Roger Marshall is raising questions with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) about the national shortage of baby formula. After baby formula that contained bacterial contaminants was sent out across the U.S, some manufacturing companies shut down production. When producers say they were ready to begin manufacturing again, lawmakers said the FDA would not give the laboratories the approval to move forward. KOAM TV reports that in response, Marshal submitted a letter to the FDA Commissioner. The letter from Marshal states, "... we write to request a response from FDA on its activities that contributed to the exacerbated infant formula shortages..." In addition to the letter, Marshal says the state intends to submit a bill that would require the FDA to examine formula manufacturing plants in Europe. Marshall also wrote that, "It is unclear why federal health agencies have not been able to complete this investigation in a more expeditious manner or plan ahead to mitigate this additional supply chain." The FDA is yet to comment on Marshall’s letter. (Read more.)
Missouri Man Accused of Holding, Torturing Woman for 2 Days
LATHROP, Mo. (AP) — Authorities say a man who was recently released from prison has been charged with kidnapping and other felonies after he tortured a woman he met on a dating site for two days at his father's home in northwestern Missouri. Television station WDAF reports that Clinton County sheriff's deputies arrested 39-year-old James Larson Jr. following a standoff Saturday at a home in Lathrop. Deputies say they found Larson hiding inside a false wall. Authorities say the standoff began when a Kansas City woman escaped from the home and called 911 from a neighboring house. Officials say the woman had been severely beaten and was hospitalized in critical condition. Sheriff Larry Fish says Larson was released from prison just two weeks earlier.
Missouri Lawsuit: Students Taunted Black Student, Threatened Lynching
UNDATED (AP) – A lawsuit alleges that administrators at a Missouri school district that is the subject of a federal civil rights investigation failed to protect a Black teen from repeated racial taunts that culminated with him being threatened with a lynching. The suit filed this month in state court described what happened as “outrageous” and sought unspecified damages against the 3,500-student Kearney school district, which is just north of Kansas City. The district said in a statement that it doesn't respond to pending litigation but is committed “fully to ensuring that every student can learn in an environment free of discrimination in any form.
Kansas Highway Patrol Identifies Woman Who Died After Car Struck a Deer
FINNEY COUNTY, Kan. (Hays Post) — Authorities have identified the victim of a fatal car/deer accident in Finney County as 41-year-old Amanda Robyn Wurtz, of Plains. The Kansas Highway Patrol reports that Wurtz was northbound Sunday on Pierceville Road at Plymell Road in a 2013 Ford Edge and hit a deer. The vehicle traveled off the road to the right, rolled and come to rest on its top. She was pronounced dead at St. Catherines Hospital. She was not wearing a seat belt, according to the KHP. (Read more.)
Biden Administration Sends $5 Billion to Cities for Safety as Road Deaths Soar
WASHINGTON (AP) — Upcoming data shows traffic deaths soaring in the U.S. The Biden administration is steering $5 billion in federal aid to cities and localities to address the growing crisis. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg on Monday announced the availability of money over five years under his department’s new Safe Streets & Roads for All program. The goal is to spur cities to adopt detailed plans to reduce traffic deaths by slowing down cars, carving out bike paths and wider sidewalks and nudging commuters to public transit. Fatalities among pedestrians and cyclists are rising faster than those within vehicles. Roadway safety advocacy group BikeWalkKC in Kansas City, Missouri, wants communities to foster walkable neighborhoods.
These area headlines are curated by KPR news staffers, including J. Schafer, Laura Lorson, Kaye McIntyre, and Tom Parkinson. Our headlines are generally posted by 10 am weekdays, 11 am weekends. This news summary is made possible by KPR listener-members. Become one today.