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Headlines for Monday, February 28, 2022



UPDATE: Triple Shooting in Lenexa Apparently Murder-Suicide

LENEXA, Kan. (AP) — Lenexa police say a shooting that left three people dead over the weekend apparently was a murder-suicide. Police spokesman Danny Chavez identified those killed early Sunday as 20-year-old John Williamson and 22-year-old Sara Beck, both of Belton, Missouri. A third person, 37-year-old Dustin Johnson, of Lenexa, also died. KSHB-TV reports Chavez said Monday that investigators believe Johnson shot Williamson and Beck before shooting himself.

(Earlier reporting...)

Three People Dead After Sunday Morning Shooting in Lenexa

LENEXA, Kan. (AP) — Three people died after a shooting in a Kansas City suburb on Sunday. Lenexa Police Department spokesman Officer Danny Chavez said the shooting was reported around 1:20 a.m. Sunday inside a home in the 8400 block of Laurelwood Street in Lenexa. The Kansas City Star reports that three people with gunshot wounds were found inside the house. Chavez said one person died at the house. The other two victims were taken to a hospital where they later died. The victims' names and ages were not immediately released. This is the first homicide reported in Lenexa since last May.


People in Kansas City, Lawrence Protest Russia's Invasion of Ukraine

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCUR) - Hundreds of people gathered in Kansas City over the weekend to protest Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Waheedullah Hamdard was one of them.  Hamdard, who is from Afghanistan, was at Saturday's protest with a group of friends. He said it was important for him to show solidarity with Ukraine because as an Afghan, he has seen war first-hand. “We have seen the children, the kids, they’re just killed in front of our eyes. So we cannot afford, anywhere, the war," he said. Hamdard said he is calling for peace in Ukraine and in other war torn countries. Kansas Citians from places like Taiwan, India, and the U.S. joined him. A similar protest was held in Lawrence and in other communities over the weekend.  Olha Chovha left Ukraine for Kansas City just 10 days ago as tensions mounted, but she was still shocked when she heard news of Russia's invasion.  Chovha says she left behind many friends and family. “It’s so difficult, it’s so hard to be here these days when I cannot help my friends and my family with anything," she said. Chovha says she was encouraged to see so many people showing up in support of Ukraine.  


Kansas Lawmakers Tackle Education Issues as Session Enters Final Month

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) - Kansas lawmakers start the final month of their legislative session this week facing a range of issues. They include how teachers talk about race and gender and whether to fund private schools with state tax dollars. Bills to give parents more control over what their children are taught on issues of race, gender and sexuality have passed out of legislative committees, but neither the House nor Senate has considered them. The same for bills that would allow low-income students to use state dollars to transfer to private schools. Senator Cindy Holscher, an Overland Park Democrat, says the proposals are attacks on public education. She believes the key to stopping them is to rally opposition in Johnson County - because it has more legislators than any other county and a long record of supporting its public schools. “Additionally, we generate close to 40% of the state’s revenue. That gives us a good reason to amplify our voice," she said. Supporters of the bills say they just want more information for parents and more options for at-risk students.


Armed Man Who Broke into Kansas City Home Shot and Killed by Resident

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A man who broke in to a Kansas City home was shot and killed by someone inside the home. Kansas City police department spokeswoman Capt. Leslie Foreman said the shooting was reported around 9:30 am Sunday at a home in the 3800 block of Northwest 85th Terrace. The Kansas City Star reports that a resident of the home told officers that he shot the armed man after he had broken into the house. The man died at the scene. Foreman said investigators will work to determine whether the intruder and the resident knew each other. Police said the person who shot the intruder is cooperating with investigators.


No One Hurt When Kansas City Officer Fires at Armed Man

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City police officer fired a weapon during a confrontation Saturday but no one was injured. Kansas City police spokeswoman Captain Leslie Foreman said a suspicious vehicle with a driver passed out behind the wheel was reported shortly before 11 pm Saturday. The Kansas City Star reported that when officers arrived, they found that the driver had several firearms inside the vehicle. Foreman said the driver refused to comply with commands, and one officer fired a gun but no one was hurt. The driver fled in the vehicle, but was arrested by Leawood police after a short pursuit.


Florida Man Dies After Losing Control of Truck While Fleeing Police

NORTON COUNTY, Kan. (AP) — A Florida man died when he crashed his truck while fleeing from police in northwest Kansas. The Kansas Highway Patrol said a trooper tried to stop the 29-year-old man for erratic driving shortly after 10:30 am Saturday. But the Wichita Eagle reports that Derek Stortzum of Brooksville, Florida, fled from the trooper along U.S. Highway 283 south of Norton. The crash report said that the Highway Patrol used a patrol car to bump into Stortzum's truck to try and end the pursuit. Trooper Tod Hileman said Stortzum lost control of his truck while he tried to flee from the trooper.


Kansas Coronavirus Case and Deaths Numbers Slowing

UPDATE: TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) - The number of new coronavirus cases in Kansas has slowed down. But the pandemic isn't over. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment reports there have been 1,806 new cases and 16 new, virus-related deaths since last Friday.  Another update is expected Wednesday.

(Additional reporting...)

Wyandotte County, Most of Northwest Kansas Remain at High Risk of COVID-19

HAYS, Kan. (KNS) - Kansas COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths have all fallen to less than half of what they were during the peak of the Omicron surge. Since peaking in mid-January with more than 10,000 new cases per day, the number of positive COVID tests in Kansas has dropped significantly. Over the past week, the state averaged roughly 300 per day. That’s led to less strain on hospitals, with the number of ICU beds used for COVID patients falling by more than half. New federal guidelines also say people in areas with low or medium risk can stop wearing masks indoors. That includes some of the most populous Kansas counties like Johnson, Sedgwick and Shawnee. But federal statistics say Wyandotte County and most of northwest Kansas remain at high risk.

(Earlier reporting...)

Pandemic Fears Fading Along with Omicron Cases

UNDATED (AP) - Omicron is fading away, and so are Americans' worries about COVID-19. Fewer Americans now say they're concerned they'll be infected compared with January following the rise and fall of the wildly contagious coronavirus variant. That's according to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. Just 24% report being "extremely" or "very" worried about themselves or a family member contracting COVID-19. That's down from 36% in both December and January, when omicron caused a massive spike in infections and taxed public health systems.  A new set of COVID-19 case numbers is expected to be released by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment today (MON).


BP Seeks to Appeal Kansas Town's Lawsuit over Gas Price Hike

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The energy company BP says in new court documents that it wants to appeal a judge's ruling allowing residents of Mulberry to sue over sharp hikes in natural gas prices last February. The Wichita Eagle reports BP filed two court documents in the last week that indicate it wants the lawsuit dismissed. One seeks permission to appeal Chief District Judge Lori A. Bolton Fleming's decision on Feb. 8 to let the lawsuit proceed. The second document outlines BP's belief that it cannot be sued by residents of the town. Mulberry sued after natural gas prices soared more than 100% during several days of a winter freeze in February 2021.


KU School of Medicine Launching Diabetes Study

WICHITA, Kan. (KNS) - The KU School of Medicine in Wichita is recruiting Black people with uncontrolled diabetes for a clinical trial. The 18-week program is all about troubleshooting the daily situations that get between people and their goals to manage diabetes better.  KU professor Michelle Redmond is leading the pilot program of a new online curriculum that helps with this kind of problem-solving. “There are so many things that you have to think about," she said. "You have to think about what you’re eating. You have to think about foot care. And you have to think about the complications that can arise.” The program is called eDecide. The initial trial focuses on Black Americans, who face higher rates of diabetes.


Judge Blocks Kansas Law on Mailed Ballot Applications

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A federal judge has permanently blocked a Kansas law prohibiting out-of-state groups from mailing advance ballot applications to voters who request them. U.S. District Judge Kathrn Vratil on Friday declared those provisions in the law violate the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution and permanently enjoined the state from enforcing them. The court ordered the state to pay the attorney fees of two national nonprofit groups who say it disenfranchises voters. The state has agreed not to appeal the order. It partially resolves the lawsuit brought by VoteAmerica and the Voter Participation Center. In January, Vratil granted a preliminary injunction against the new law before it took effect.


Kansas Woman Faces Manslaughter Charge Related to House Fire

SHAWNEE, Kan. (AP) — A Johnson County woman faces charges related to a house fire that killed a baby in suburban Kansas City, Kansas. The Kansas City Star reports that 28-year-old Karlie Phelps was arrested Friday on charges of involuntary manslaughter and endangering a child. She is scheduled to appear in court Monday. Television station FOX4 reports the case involves the death of an infant who died in a deadly house fire Feb. 13 in Shawnee, Kansas. Firefighters battling the flames found the child's body inside the home. Police later arrested 28-year-old Nicholas Adam Ecker, the father of the child, on charges of with first-degree murder, aggravated arson and other crimes.


Missouri Man Sentenced in Deaths of 4 Family Members

PLATTE CITY, Mo. (AP) — A 30-year-old Missouri man who killed four family members, including an infant, has been sentenced to four life terms plus 115 years. Platte County authorities said Grayden Denham was sentenced Friday. He was convicted in December of 10 felonies, including four counts of first-degree murder. Prosecutors said he shot his grandfather, grandmother, sister and her 3-month-old son in February 2016 and burned their bodies. Their bodies were discovered near the family home in Edgerton. Denham was arrested two days later when he was found naked in a street in Arizona. Prosecutors said Denham was seen arguing with his grandfather the day before the killings, and had been using methamphetamine.


Two Men Charged in Fatal Beating of Homeless Man in Wichita

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Two men are charged with second-degree murder in the fatal beating of a homeless man in Wichita. Sixty-three-year-old David Chandler and 31-year-old Abel Molina made their first appearances in court Friday. Their bonds were set at $500,000 and their next court appearances are scheduled for March 7. Police say Chandler and Molina, who are also homeless, assaulted 30-year-old Blake Barnes on February 22 at a bridge near the Mid-America All-Indian Museum near downtown Wichita. Police say witnesses reported Barnes was hit several times with a metal pipe.


Top Kansas School Official Suspended over Offensive Remark

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — THe Kansas Board of Eductaion has suspended the state's top public school administrator over an offensive public comment about Native Americans. Its decision Friday to suspend Education Commissioner Randy Watson for 30 days without pay came after it unanimously rejected the resignation he submitted.  The governor and indigenous leaders called for his resignation but Board Chair Jim Porter said members believe in what he called restorative justice and considered Watson's entire career when rejecting Watson's resignation. The elected 10-member board appointed Watson commissioner in November 2015 to run the State Department of Education. The board's 30-day suspension frustrated Native American leaders who had joined Governor Laura Kelly on Thursday calling for Watson to step down.  


Tickets for Symphony in the Flint Hills Go on Sale Saturday

WICHITA, Kan. (KMWU) - Tickets for the 17th Annual Symphony in the Flint Hills go on sale Saturday, March 5th.  This year's event will take place June 11th at Irma’s Pasture near Bazaar, in Chase County. This year's theme is Weather in the Flint Hills. It’s intended to bring attention to the impact that the weather has on the area. There will be several activities for people who attend, including presentations about the Flint Hills, covered wagon rides, guided prairie walks plus the concert itself.  Ticket information available at symphonyintheflinthills.org.


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!