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Weekend Headlines for January 6-7, 2018

Victims Identified in Wichita-Area Grain Elevator Accident

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Sedgwick County officials have identified two workers killed when they were buried by grain at a Wichita-area grain elevator. Authorities say 32-year-old Marcus Tice and 28-year-old Joshua Rasbold died Tuesday at the Gavilon Grain elevator in south Wichita. Their bodies were recovered about three hours after the men were buried under 20 to 25 feet of grain. It isn't clear how they got into the bin and what caused them to become trapped. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating.


Hutchinson Man Dead in Arizona Shooting Involving Forest Service Officer

SEDONA, Ariz. (AP) — The FBI says a 51-year-old Kansas man is dead following an Arizona shooting involving a U.S. Forest Service law enforcement officer who was not injured. The FBI identified the man killed in the Friday night incident as Tyler Miller and said he was last known to be living in Kansas. FBI spokesman Glenn Milnor said the shooting occurred on U.S. 89A in Oak Creek Canyon north of Sedona but released no information on circumstances of the shooting. Oak Creek Canyon is a popular recreation area.


Childcare Worker Pleads No Contest in Infant's Death

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — The operator of a home day care in Overland Park where a baby died last year has pleaded no contest to misdemeanor counts in the case. The Kansas City Star reports that 55-year-old Bilma Maese-Sanchez entered the plea Friday in Johnson County District Court to child endangerment and operating an unlicensed day care facility. She was sentenced to one year of probation. Prosecutors say 7-month-old Gabriel Omar Rivera-Contreras, of Lenexa, died at her home on February 4th, 2017. An autopsy showed the cause of death as sudden infant death syndrome. Maese-Sanchez was not accused of intentionally hurting the child, but prosecutors say she placed the child in a situation where his "life, body or health could have been endangered."


Man Charged with Murder, Kidnapping after High Speed Chase

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Prosecutors have charged a homicide suspect shot by police in Missouri after he led them on a high-speed chase with murder, kidnapping and other counts. The Kansas City Star reports that 28-year-old Jeremy Comstock was charged Friday in Wyandotte County, Kansas, with first-degree murder and three counts of kidnapping. He was also charged in Clay County, Missouri, with first-degree assault, armed criminal action and resisting a lawful stop. His bond has been set at $250,000. Kansas City, Missouri police say officers began chasing Comstock near Smithville on Thursday and continued until his vehicle spun out of control on Interstate 35 in northern Kansas City. Police say officer then shot Comstock, but his injuries are not life-threatening. A woman who was in Comstock's van surrendered. Police in Kansas City, Kansas, say Comstock is a suspect in the death of a man who was found shot inside a pickup truck earlier Thursday.


Topeka Police Identify Man Found Dead after Standoff

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Police have confirmed the identity of one of two people found dead inside a northeastern Kansas townhome after a nearly 16-hour standoff with officers. The Topeka Capital- Journal reports that 33-year-old Juan Lucio was the man found dead inside the Topeka townhome. Police have not yet released the name of the woman found dead. Police say Lucio barricaded himself inside the home and fired at first responders throughout the standoff, which began Thursday night. The standoff ended Friday afternoon. No officers were injured. Officers found the bodies when they entered the home after firing tear gas inside. Police rescued another woman spotted waving at officers from a second floor window. Police spokeswoman Coleen Stuart says officers fired no shots during the standoff.


Kansas Lawmaker: Make Abandoning Guns a Crime

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas lawmaker wants to make it a crime to abandon a firearm in a public place, a measure spurred in part by a scare on the University of Kansas campus. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that Democratic Rep. Boog Highberger of Lawrence pre-filed the bill December 28th for the legislative session that begins Monday. In September, a KU student found a loaded handgun that had been left in a bathroom stall. Authorities determined the gun had been stolen. A law that took effect July 1st allows handguns to be concealed and carried in most government buildings, including college campus buildings. The proposal would make it a misdemeanor to leave a firearm in a public place where it would be accessible to someone other than the owner.


Olathe Police Seek Car after Video Shows Kids in Trunk

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — Police in the Kansas City suburb of Olathe, Kansas, are investigating after a video posted on social media appeared to show two children being placed into the trunk of a car.The Kansas City Star reports that police on Thursday responded to a report that the children were placed in a trunk of a Volkswagen Jetta, the trunk was closed, and the car drove away. The video drew attention after it was posted to a social media site, though it was later removed. Police responding to the area were unable to find the car. Anyone with information is asked to call Olathe police.


Trump Resubmits Lenexa Attorney's Nomination for Federal Judgeship

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — President Donald Trump has resubmitted the nomination of Holly Lou Teeter of Lenexa to be a federal district judge for the District of Kansas. Teeter, who is currently an assistant U.S. attorney for the Western District of Missouri, was among 21 judicial nominations the White House resubmitted Friday. The Senate failed to vote on the nominations before adjourning its 2017 session. Her nomination was stalled when the American Bar Association's ratings committee rated her as unqualified, noting she had practiced law for 11.5 years, short of the association's minimum 12 years of experience needed to be considered qualified. If confirmed, she would take a seat in the federal courthouse in Topeka formerly held by Judge Kathryn Vratil, who took senior status in 2014.


Lawrence Grease Dump Remains Unsolved

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Lawrence police continue to seek answers after thousands of gallons of cooking grease were illegally dumped into a city manhole. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that it has been six months since the grease contaminated the city's storm sewer system and waterways, requiring days to clean. Police Sgt. Amy Rhoads says there are no leads in the case, but anyone with information is urged to come forward. The grease was dumped into a manhole near a grocery store and a strip mall. The city had to hire plumbers to clean sewer lines, a hazardous materials cleanup crew to decontaminate a creek, and a septic service to assist in the cleanup. The city has not said how much the remediation cost. Businesses typically pay outside companies to properly dispose of cooking grease.


Brownback Rescinds Fee Hike for Statehouse Protests

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Sam Brownback has canceled big fee increases for groups using the Kansas Statehouse for events following criticism that his administration was trying to stifle protests. Brownback's office announced Friday that the Department of Administration would return to its previous $20 fee and refund higher fees already paid by groups. The department announced in November that it would raise fees this year to recover its costs in providing sound equipment, setting up tables and chairs and cleaning up. The lowest fee was set at fifty dollars. Some groups reported facing $500 fees and said the department was trying to make Statehouse protests too expensive. The department said it is facing a higher demand for Statehouse events. Brownback's office said budget proposals he will make next week would cover the department's costs.


Police Question Others in Deadly "Swatting" Call in Kansas

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Police say investigators are interviewing people involved in a hoax 911 call that led to a fatal police shooting in Kansas, but that no new arrests have been made. Wichita Police Chief Gordon Ramsay provided few updates on the case during a news conference Friday, saying only that officers are focused on following up with people involved. Ramsay wouldn't provide details about those people or their alleged involvement. Investigators say Andrew Finch was fatally shot by Wichita police after a prankster falsely reported a shooting and kidnapping at Finch's address. The man suspected of making that call from Los Angeles, Tyler Barriss, was arrested last week. He's charged with making a false alarm. Police characterized the call as a case of "swatting," in which callers try to get police to respond to a bogus report.


Manhattan Police Officer Shot, Wounded

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Riley County police officer was shot when he responded to a domestic violence call in Manhattan. Riley County Police Department Director Brad Schoen says one of the first officers to respond to the call Friday was shot by the man inthe home, who then barricaded himself inside. Schoen says the officer's injury is not life-threatening. No other officers were injured. Schoen says the man surrendered without resistance after about two hours. He says a woman was able to escape the home. The shooting happened shortly after noon Friday about three miles northwest of the Kansas State University campus. An investigation is continuing.


Body of Suspect in Kansas Double Homicide Found

HILL CITY, Kan. (AP) — A suspect in a homicide in northwestern Kansas has been found dead. The Kansas Bureau of Investigation says the body of 29-year-old Efren Mascarenas Jr. was found Thursday night in northeast Graham County. Authorities began searching for Mascarenas after two people were found dead Thursday in the unincorporated town of Penokee, near Hill City. The victims were found after Graham County Sheriff's Office responded to a call of an unresponsive man. Authorities have released no other information about the homicides, Mascarenas' connection to the victims or details of how his body was found. Kansas Department of Corrections records show Mascarenas has three prior convictions for aggravated battery and another for interference with law enforcement. He was released from prison in February of 2017 and his post-release expired in August.


Two Dead after 16-Hour Police Standoff at Topeka Townhouse

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Police say a man and woman were found dead inside a Kansas townhome after a standoff that lasted nearly 16 hours. Police say a man barricaded himself inside the home in Topeka and fired at first responders throughout the standoff, which began about 10 p.m. Thursday. The standoff ended around 1:30 p.m. on Friday. Police spokeswoman Coleen Stuart says officers found the bodies when they entered the home after chemicals were sent into the apartment. Another woman in the home was able to escape. She was treated for injuries from the chemicals. The names of the women and the two people found dead haven't been released. Stuart says the man sporadically shot at first responders through the night and Friday morning. No officers were injured during the incident.


KC Nurse Sentenced for Sexual Assault of Patients

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A former nurse at two Kansas City suburban hospitals has been sentenced to nearly 13 years in prison for sexually abusing anesthetized patients. 50-year-old Dennis Clark was sentenced Friday after pleading guilty in November to one count of aggravated sodomy. As part of his plea, less serious charges involving two other patients were dropped. The Kansas City Star reports that misdemeanor charges alleging that Clark exposed himself to neighbors in Gardner were also dismissed. The incidents occurred at Menorah Medical Center in Overland Park and Providence Medical Center in Kansas City, Kansas. Police began investigating Clark in May 2014, after a patient reported being sexually assaulted. Two other women reported similar incidents. Charges are still pending in Wyandotte County. Clark's registered nursing license was revoked after he was charged.


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