One of Two Men Shot Outside Kansas School Has Died; Suspect in Custody
OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — One of the two contract workers injured in a shooting outside a suburban Kansas City elementary school has died. Overland Park, Kansas, police spokesman John Lacey says the victim died Tuesday afternoon, several hours after he and a co-worker were shot at Sunrise Point Elementary School. The second victim remains in critical condition. All three men were installing artificial turf on a playground at the school. The names of the men have not been released. The suspect was arrested at a home where authorities found a sport utility vehicle that was carjacked after the shooting. Overland Park Police Chief Frank Donchez says the home belonged to the owner of the carjacked vehicle. He says it's unclear what led the suspect to go to that home, describing it as "bizarre to say the least." No students were present when the shooting occurred.
KBI Investigates Officer Involved Shooting in Lawrence, Suspect Arrested
LAWRENCE, Kan. (KPR) — A suspect has been arrested in connection with an officer involved shooting Monday night in Lawrence. The suspect has been identified as 58-year-old Tommie John May, of Lawrence. He is being held in the Douglas County Jail. The city's police department requested the assistance the Kansas Bureau of Investigation since one of its officers was involved in the shooting. According to the KBI, preliminary information indicates that officers were dispatched to 713 West 25th Street at about 9:30 pm to a reported shooting. Once they arrived at the residence, two gunshot victims were located and taken to area hospitals. Approximately five minutes after the shooting call, a responding officer in the area encountered a green SUV matching the description of the shooting suspect’s vehicle, and attempted to initiate a car stop near 21st and Louisiana Street. During the incident, the officer exited his vehicle and the suspect struck the police vehicle and the officer with his SUV. The officer fired his weapon multiple times toward the SUV. The suspect then ran from the scene heading south, where additional officers were able to arrest him. A firearm was recovered near 21st and Louisiana Street where the car stop was attempted. Both the injured officer and the suspect were transported to Lawrence Memorial Hospital where they were treated for non-life threatening injuries and have since been released.
Judge Rejects Massachusetts Man's Run for Kansas Office
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ A federal judge has rejected a request from a Massachusetts man seeking to put his name on the Republican primary ballot for Kansas attorney general. U.S. District Judge Eric Melgren ruled Tuesday that political activist Vermin Supreme is not entitled to federal court intervention. A state board had previously ruled Supreme ineligible to run. The Rockport, Massachusetts, man contends in a lawsuit that he should be allowed to run because Kansas has no residency requirement. But Melgren said federal courts have interfered in state elections only in extreme circumstances, noting this case hinges on interpretation of state statutes. A Kansas judge recently ruled residency was a requirement to run for governor. Melgren also cited the potential disruption to the August primary in Kansas.
Kansas Father Funding Effort to Get Son Elected to Congress
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The father of Republican congressional candidate Steve Watkins set up and funded a political action committee that's running a $64,000 ad campaign for his son. Creating a PAC allows the father to skirt rules that would limit direct contributions to his son's candidacy for the open seat in Kansas's 2nd congressional district. Watkins is one of seven candidates seeking the GOP nomination. Records filed with the Federal Election Commission this week show that the sole donor to the political action committee is Topeka doctor Steven Watkins. The elder Watkins donated $100,000 days after its formation. The PAC began airing television ads last week in support of Watkins candidacy in the primary to replace retiring U.S. Representative Lynn Jenkins.
New Hiring Rule for Child Protection Workers Faces Pushback
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Ann Goodall's work with the Kansas Department of Children and Families is often traumatic, she said, and though she's been there for 16 years with no thought of quitting, many co-workers do. Child protection specialists such as Goodall spend their days knocking on doors that often open into an ugly problem to solve. It chips away at people, Goodall said, and many quit quickly or after a few years, leaving jobs the state has trouble filling. The department reported last month that it had 76 vacant child protection positions. To solve that problem, the department loosened the requirements for the jobs. Applicants no longer must be licensed social workers but must have a four-year degree in a similar field. According to the department, Kansas was one of only 10 states requiring social work licenses for such positions before the change in May. But many child welfare advocates, including members of Kansas' National Association of Social Workers, oppose the move, and see loosening requirements as lowering standards for workers who make life-changing decisions daily. The former head of Missouri's Department of Social Services, Steve Roling has also expressed concern about the change. "Kansas historically has been a leader in making sure their workers are more ahead of the game than other states," he said. "In my opinion, it would be a shame to go back on that."
Alice Kitchen, now retired, spent 23 years as the social services director at Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City. A former foster parent and current member of the National Association of Social Workers, she is critical of the Kansas agency's decision. "Taking a child away from a parent is as significant and sacred an obligation as the death penalty," Kitchen said. Requiring a social worker's license helps ensure an investigator is knowledgeable and ethical, she said. Social work requires a deep understanding of human growth, development and behavior, Kitchen said, and a bachelor's degree alone is no proof of that expertise.
But department Secretary Gina Meier-Hummel, who began her career as a child protection investigator, said her bachelor's and master's degrees did nothing to prepare her for that sort of work. Licensed and un-licensed investigators alike will receive mandatory training throughout their careers with the department, Meier-Hummel said. That, she said, will do more to prepare them than any college course. "Critics aren't looking at what's happening across the nation," Meier-Hummel said, pointing out that Kansas was in the minority before the change. "Those same critics are welcome to come do the work themselves if they want to." The staffing issue is urgent because the number of children in Kansas' foster care system is growing. At the end of May, the agency reported 7,670 children in the foster system. In 2008, it had 5,754. The agency did not say how many total child protection specialist positions there are in the state. Kansas's new standards match closely with neighboring Nebraska. That state has never had a social work license requirement for specialists, Nebraska's Division of Children and Family Services director Matt Wallen said. Even its current four-year degree requirement is relatively new, Wallen said. Before a change in the early 2000's an associate's degree and previous experience was the standard.
Vacancies are nothing new, Goodall said. She recalls only a few brief moments when the Kansas Department of Children and Families has been fully staffed. Stresses of the job, and the thanklessness of it, means there are usually empty desks, she said. "I've never wanted to go anywhere else, but talking with people I've worked with and previous co-workers, this isn't something they can do for years on end," Goodall said. "It's too upsetting, it's too traumatizing, it's a thankless job."
University of Kansas Bans Tobacco, Vape Use on Campus
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — University of Kansas students and faculty can no longer use tobacco or vaping products on campus under a new policy pushed by health-conscious students. The university banned smoking, vaping or using any other tobacco products on school grounds as of July 1, The Kansas City Star reported . State law already bans smoking inside and immediately outside campus buildings. The new school policy comes more than five years after a student survey found that 64 percent favored stricter tobacco policies. Faculty who responded at the time to an Office of Institutional Research and Planning survey agreed. But the university delayed plans to formalize such a policy while dealing with last year's new state law allowing concealed handguns on campus, said Ola Faucher, director of human resources. A similar survey conducted in 2016 by the university's Student Senate showed that the majority of students still support a tobacco ban. "We know the health consequences of tobacco by now," said Savannah Cox, a rising senior who is the president of Breathe Easy, a school group that has advocated for tobacco-free campus. "I thought this is definitely something we should try to get off our campus, clean the air and motivate people struggling with addiction. The new rules affect all University of Kansas campuses, which won't have designated smoking areas. The university provides free programs at the student health center to help students fighting a nicotine or tobacco addiction. Employees can receive cessation assistance through the university's health insurance, Faucher said. The new policy was driven by students, but it keeps the university competitive with other schools that have embraced similar changes, Faucher said. "It has a lot to do with being a leader of thought and social change, because that's the way our culture is going," Faucher said. "There are a lot of campuses now that are tobacco free. It places us in a more comparable position with a lot of universities when we are recruiting students."
Employee Fired after Finding Secret Camera Sues
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - A former legal director for a commercial development firm in Kansas City alleges in a lawsuit that she discovered a camera installed underneath her desk and was fired after calling police. Mary Caffrey, of Leawood, Kansas, is suing Legacy Development, managing partner Dan Lowe and the firm's chief financial officer, Sue Gallatin, in Jackson County Circuit Court. Caffrey alleges that she called police last summer after finding the secretive recording device underneath her office desk and pointed in her direction. She was terminated five days later. The lawsuit says Lowe and Gallatin knew Caffrey used her office to undress and change into workout clothes. Caffrey is seeking unspecified damages.
Suspect in Kansas Killing Arrested at Oklahoma Bus Stop
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a suspect in a deadly weekend shooting in Wichita has been arrested at an Oklahoma bus stop. The Wichita Eagle reports that the 34-year-old was booked Monday into the jail in Noble County, Oklahoma. Authorities are working to extradite him to Kansas, where he is suspected of killing 23-year-old Patrick Ball-Morse early Saturday at an apartment. Wichita police Officer Paul Cruz says investigators received information that the suspect was on his way to Dallas, and police contacted the Oklahoma Highway Patrol. The man and a woman who was with him were arrested on a Greyhound bus for failure to report to their probation officers. The woman also is accused of bringing drugs into the jail in Oklahoma.
Off-Duty Officer Hurt, Intruder Killed in Gunfire Exchange
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say an off-duty Wichita officer was wounded and a suspected home intruder killed in an exchange of gunfire. KWCH-TV reports that Wichita Police Chief Gordon Ramsay says 24-year-old Christian Webb shot the officer in the leg after entering the officer's home through an unlocked door. The officer then returned fire, hitting the Webb several times. Webb died at a hospital. The officer was treated and released. Ramsay says the officer's wife and children were home at the time of the shooting and are shaken up but uninjured. Ramsay says some cars had been broken into near where the shooting happened. Ramsay says there is no connection between the suspect and officer.
3 Lawsuits Accuse Prison Guard of Assaulting Female Inmates
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Missouri prison guard now faces a third lawsuit accusing him of sexually assaulting female inmates at a prison in the western Missouri town of Chillicothe. All three lawsuits naming Edward Bearden have been filed over the past five weeks in federal court in Kansas City, including a suit filed Monday. The lawsuits say that the Missouri Department of Corrections knew or should have known about the assaults. Bearden has not been criminally charged. Mary Compton, a spokeswoman for the Missouri attorney general's office, which represents Bearden, says the lawsuits are under review. The latest lawsuit accuses Bearden of fondling and assaulting an inmate several times starting in October 2015.
Former Students Confess to High School Prank After 50 Years
CLAY CENTER, Kan. (AP) — A group of Kansas pranksters are finally coming clean right before the 50-year anniversary of a high school finding a mysterious hole through its roof. The Kansas City Star reports that Richard Klocke and his friends fired a small cannon full of gunpowder near Clay Center Community High School for the Fourth of July in 1968. Authorities reported that mysterious metal scraps had gouged the school roof and caused a water leak, but they never figured out where the scraps came from. The pranksters stayed quiet about the incident until now to avoid getting in trouble. The 65-year-old says he wants to take responsibility because "it's never officially been told.”