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Headlines for Wednesday, July 20, 2022

 

Man Charged in Shooting Death of Missouri Police Officer

NORTH KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A 24-year-old Missouri man is charged with first-degree murder and armed criminal action in the shooting death of a police officer during a traffic stop. Joshua Rocha, of Kansas City, was charged Wednesday, a day after North Kansas City police officer Daniel Vasquez was shot and killed when he stopped a vehicle with expired temporary tags. Rocha is being held on $2 million bond and will be arraigned Thursday. Authorities say dashcam video from Vasquez's car shows that Rocha shot Vasquez once through his car window and then got out of the vehicle and fired two more shots at the officer, who was on the ground. Online court records do not name an attorney for Vasquez.

(-Additional Reporting-)

Suspect Charged with Fatally Shooting North KC Police Officer During Traffic Stop

NORTH KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KPR) — The man suspected of fatally shooting a North Kansas City police officer has been charged with 1st-degree murder and armed criminal action. The suspect, Joshua Rocha, allegedly shot officer Daniel Vasquez after being pulled over for having an expired temporary license tag. Vasquez, who had worked for the department since 2021, died Tuesday at an area hospital. Rocha turned himself in to authorities in Chillicothe, Missouri, after officials issued a Blue Alert for his car.

Missouri Police Officer Dies After Being Shot During Traffic Stop

NORTH KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Missouri police officer has died after being shot while trying to conduct a traffic stop. Authorities said Officer Daniel Vasquez died Tuesday at a hospital after he was shot earlier in the day in North Kansas City. Clay County Sheriff Will Akin said a suspect turned himself into police in Chillicothe after officials had issued a Blue Alert for his car. Akin said the 32-year-old Vasquez attempted to stop a car for expired temporary tags Tuesday morning when the suspect fired at the officer before fleeing in the car. Vasquez had worked for the department since 2021. No information on the suspect was released.

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Evergy Says It's Prepared to Deal with Kansas and Missouri Heat Wave

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) - As the Midwest bakes in triple-digit temperatures, utility company Evergy says it’s prepared to meet the electricity demands across Kansas and Missouri.  Gina Penzig is the manager of Evergy’s external communications. She says the utility will be under a "conservative operations advisory" for at least some of this week due to high temperatures and increased power use. But she says that won’t require the public to conserve electricity. "We fully expect to be able to meet customer’s needs through this heat wave," she said. Evergy does expect to use a program this week in which the company increases customers’ thermostats during periods of high energy demand. But this will only impact customers who have opted in to the voluntary thermostat program. The company also encouraged customers to have a safety plan with a cool place to go in case of a power outage during extreme heat.

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Kansas League of Women Voters Tries to Overturn Voting Law

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) - Voting advocates are trying again to overturn a Kansas law that they say suppresses voter registration efforts. The Kansas League of Women Voters and other advocacy groups filed suit, but the law survived when the Kansas Court of Appeals declined to hear a case that could have struck it down.  The law says people can not impersonate election officials. Opponents say that language is vague.  Voting advocates say they now fear that helping people register to vote could constitute impersonating an election official - and that could result in prison time. The appeals court says those concerns are unwarranted.

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Both Sides Raise Millions to Sway Voters on Kansas Abortion Amendment

LAWRENCE, Kan. (KNS) - A group called Kansans for Constitutional Freedom has raised $6.5 million for its campaign opposing the state's "Value Them Both" constitutional amendment. Planned Parenthood has provided more than a million of that amount. Meanwhile, Catholic organizations in Kansas are providing millions to support the amendment that would change the state constitution to say the document does not include a right to abortion. The Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas contributed nearly $2.5 million to the Value Them Both coalition. That makes up more than half of the group’s total fundraising of $4.6 million. Many other Catholic churches and groups have also contributed to the campaign supporting the amendment.  Early voting is already underway and election day is August 2nd.

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Hazing Allegations Lead to Suspension of KU Fraternity

LAWRENCE, Kan. (LJW) - Allegations of hazing have led to one fraternity at the University of Kansas to voluntarily leave campus. And according to the Lawrence Journal-World, the university says more action may be on the way. KU spokesman Andy Hyland confirmed to the Journal-World that Sigma Chi fraternity has had its KU charter revoked by its national organization. Hyland said KU became aware of hazing allegations involving Sigma Chi in January, and began working with the fraternity’s national organization to address the issue. Hyland said the national organization conducted its own investigation, and made a decision Tuesday to suspend the fraternity’s KU charter.  Hyland did not comment on how long Sigma Chi will be suspended from KU, but the University Daily Kansan reported earlier Tuesday that the suspension was for four years, citing a group text message that was sent to fraternity members.  

In January, KU suspended two fraternities — Phi Gamma Delta and Phi Delta Theta — for five years after KU investigations determined both fraternities engaged in systemic hazing activities that caused physical and mental harm to pledges.  Attempts to reach the local Sigma Chi chapter were not successful Tuesday evening. (Read more.)

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Former Colombian President Santos to Receive Dole Leadership Prize

LAWRENCE, Kan. (LJW) - Former president of Colombia and KU alumnus Juan Manuel Santos has been selected to receive the 2022 Dole Leadership Prize. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that Santos, the 2016 winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, will receive the Dole Leadership Prize at a public program September 20 at the Dole Institute of Politics. The Dole Leadership Prize is a bipartisan award presented annually to an individual who demonstrates the importance of involvement in political and civic affairs. Santos was identified for recognition by the late Kansas Senator Bob Dole in honor of his successful efforts to bring peace to Colombia. Santos graduated from the University of Kansas with degrees in business and economics. He served two terms as president of Colombia from 2010 to 2018, with one of the cornerstones of his administration being his work on a peace process with FARC, the Colombian guerrilla organization. Santos is only the third foreign recipient of the Dole Leadership Prize, joining Lech Walesa, Poland’s former president, and Viktor Yushchenko, former president of Ukraine. (Read more.)

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Kansas and Missouri Health Care is Saddling People of Color with Debt

LAWRENCE, Kan. (KNS) - People in Kansas and Missouri are struggling with medical debt. And that debt is disproportionately affecting people of color. As the Kansas News Service reports, the negative effects extend beyond health care. Medical debt affects credit and hurts a person's ability to obtain good loans to buy homes and invest in other things that fuel middle class wealth. The Urban Institute crunched data from millions of credit reports across the country by ZIP code. In both Kansas and Missouri, nearly one-third of adults in predominantly non-white ZIP codes have medical debt in collections. That makes it twice as common in communities of color — compared to mostly white ZIP codes — to face collectors pursuing them over medical bills. Moreover, communities of color in Kansas and Missouri struggle much more than people in neighborhoods with similar demographics in other states.  (Read more.)

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Geary County Sheriff: Man Arrested for Killing Wife at Kansas Lake

GEARY COUNTY (KSNT) – An arrest has been made nearly a year after the murder of a woman at a Kansas lake. KSNT TV reports that Cameron Lawson is accused of killing his wife, Enfinnity Lawson, on October 3, 2021 at Milford Lake. At the time, the Geary County Sheriff's Office said she was reportedly shot and robbed by an unidentified man.  The U.S. Army was also involved in the investigation and offered a $25,000 reward for information related to her death.

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Filming of Children at Garden City Pool Leads to Arrest

GARDEN CITY, Kan. (KSNW) — Someone reported a man filming children at Garden City’s swimming pool and livestreaming it to the internet. That report led to a police investigation and a child sexual exploitation arrest. KSNW TV reports that the Garden City Police Department got a report on July 7 that the man had been livestreaming children at the Big Pool. Police did not say if there was anything unusual about what was being livestreamed. The department began an investigation, and police say they identified 57-year-old William Joe Bolin, of Garden City, as a suspect. On Monday, suthorities served a search warrant on Bolin’s home. Police say they seized several electronic items, suspected drugs and drug paraphernalia. In addition, they say a preliminary search of the electronic items resulted in the location of numerous items of child pornography. Officers say Bolin was arrested while reporting to his probation officer and booked into the Finney County Jail on suspicion of multiple counts of child sexual exploitation and drug possession charges.

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Ellsworth County Man Found Guilty of Child Sex Crimes

WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt confirmed the conviction of an Ellsworth County man in connection with a case involving child sex crimes. Schmidt said 36-year-old Jason Cunningham’s conviction falls under the Kansas version of Jessica’s Law. KWCH TV reports that late last week, an Ellsworth County jury found Cunningham guilty of aggravated criminal sodomy, promoting obscenity to a minor and other sex crimes. A news release from Schmidt’s office said the case involving the Wilson resident covered a stretch of several years.  Investigators say the crimes occurred between 2014 and 2020 and involved two minor children at the time the crimes were committed.

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Iowa Man Convicted in Multi-State Lottery Rigging Scheme Paroled

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A former lottery computer technician convicted in a scheme to rig computers to win jackpots for himself, friends and family has been paroled after serving more than five years in an Iowa prison. Online prisoner records show 59-year-old Eddie Tipton was released from prison Friday. Tipton pleaded guilty to ongoing criminal conduct in 2017 and was ordered to pay restitution of $2.2 million to Colorado, Wisconsin, Kansas and Oklahoma. He shared some of the restitution obligation with his brother in Texas, who collected some of the winnings and served a 75-day jail sentence. Tipton is suing Iowa, claiming he was placed under duress to plead guilty. He says Iowa officials had no authority to charge him for restitution in other states.

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Sky-High Diesel Prices Squeeze Truckers, Farmers, Consumers

NEW YORK (AP/KPR) — High diesel prices are driving up the cost of everything, from groceries to Amazon orders and furniture. That's because nearly everything that's delivered, whether by truck, rail or ship, uses diesel fuel. Truckers are turning down hauling jobs in the states with the most expensive diesel. They're choosing lighter loads and in some cases working longer hours to make up for the money lost on fuel. Farmers harvesting hay and planting corn with diesel-fired tractors are taking a hit of thousands of dollars per week. And many of these high costs are passed down to consumers. In June, the average cost of diesel fuel in the U.S. was $5.75 a gallon. In Kansas, the average price of diesel was $5.15 a gallon, according to Triple A.

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U.S. Disrupts North Korean Hackers that Targeted American Hospitals

NEW YORK (AP) — The FBI and Justice Department recently disrupted the activities of a hacking group that was sponsored by the North Korean government and that targeted U.S. hospitals, including health care providers in Kansas and Colorado, with ransomware. The agencies were able to recover half a million dollars in ransom payments. That's according to Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco. She revealed new details of the attacks during a speech in New York on Tuesday. She encouraged organizations hit by ransomware to report the crime to law enforcement, both so that officials can investigate and so that they can help victim companies try to get ransom payments back.

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Lawyer Raises Concerns that Johnson County Sheriff Was Trying to Interfere with Elections

JOHNSON COUNTY, Kan. (Midwest Newsroom) - Johnson County Sheriff Calvin Hayden, whose office is investigating allegations of election fraud, has privately said he wants law enforcement involved in upcoming elections. The Midwest Newsroom reports that Hayden met with top election officials in Johnson County on July 5th.  A county lawyer’s summary of that meeting shows Hayden requested changes in how elections are handled. For example, the sheriff wants to limit the hours that ballot drop boxes are available. He also wants deputies to pick up ballots from drop boxes. And he wants deputies present when votes are counted. Johnson County’s chief legal counsel told Hayden that such requests give the appearance that his office is attempting to interfere with elections. Hayden, a Republican, has said he has his own concerns about whether local elections are clean, in part because voters are registering as Democrats in larger numbers than before. (Read more.)

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After Attracting Panasonic's $4 Billion Battery Plant, Kansas Could Attract other Big Projects

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) - Panasonic’s decision to build a $4 billion electric vehicle battery plant in Kansas could open the door to other big business recruitment deals. Kansas Lieutenant Governor David Toland, who also heads the Department of Commerce, says the $830 million incentive package that helped seal the deal with Panasonic has changed the way other big companies look at the state. “Kansas is in the big leagues now. We have eight companies that are seeking to spend $1 billion or more that we are in conversations with.” Kansas Public Radio reports that those other companies range from additional electric vehicle battery makers to data-processing companies. Because the tax breaks given to Panasonic cost so much, Toland can offer a similar package to only one of the target companies. That, he says, means focusing on the one that would be the best fit for Kansas. (Read more.)

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Health Officials: Most of Kansas at High Risk for West Nile Virus

TOPEKA, Kan. (KAKE) - The Kansas Department of Health and Environment has issued a high-risk warning for West Nile virus infections for much of the state. Health officials say the virus is the leading cause of mosquito-borne illness in the continental United States. It is most often spread to people through mosquito bites, but it is not spread from person to person.  KAKE TV reports that so far this year, there are no confirmed cases of West Nile virus in the state. About one in five people who are infected develop a fever and other symptoms. In some cases, the virus in fatal.  There are no vaccines or medications to treat West Nile virus.  Most infections occur in the late summer and early fall.

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Simmons Pet Food Expands Operations in Emporia, Edgerton

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) – Governor Laura Kelly says Simmons Pet Food is expanding operations in two Kansas communities, investing $115 million and creating 177 jobs. A new distribution hub will be built in Edgerton and a fourth, high-speed canning line will be added to the company’s existing facility in Emporia. The projects are part of the company’s $500 million strategic growth plan. Simmons is a contract manufacturer of wet pet food in North America. Simmons’ Emporia facility, which has been in operation since 1998, began with just one line. The operation has grown to employ more than 1,500 people.

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Kansas Public Radio Hosts Ice Cream Social

LAWRENCE, Kan. (KPR) — Kansas Public Radio, based at the University of Kansas, will host an ice cream social this month to show appreciation to its listener-member community. The public radio station will serve complimentary Hy-Vee ice cream treats while supplies last from 5-7 pm July 28 at Maceli’s in downtown Lawrence. Local artist Sky Smeed will perform live music.  This is a KPR member-exclusive event, and members will have the chance to claim their own KPR mug commemorating the station’s 70th anniversary. KPR will offer one mug per household, while supplies last. All listeners have the opportunity to become a member by contributing to KPR. 

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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. And follow KPR News on Twitter.

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