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Headlines for Tuesday, July 19, 2022



UPDATE:  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 this (TUE) 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.

(–Earlier Reporting–)

Person of Interest in North Kansas City Police Shooting Taken into Custody

NORTH KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KMBC) – Officials say a person of interest connected to a shooting earlier today (TUE) in North Kansas City has been taken into custody. KMBC reports that a "Blue Alert" was issued by the Missouri State Highway Patrol after a law enforcement officer was shot and seriously injured during a traffic stop. Officials say the male officer initiated the traffic stop, and the driver exited the vehicle and began firing at the officer, who was seriously injured. Details about the person of interest have not yet been released, but authorities were searching for a gray Ford Taurus with Missouri temporary tag 03GU43 earlier today (TUE). The driver was only identified as a white male with brown hair, carrying an unknown firearm. KMBC's report on the situation says it is believed that the officer's injuries are life-threatening. 

North Kansas City Police Officer Hurt in Shooting

NORTH KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KMBC) — A police officer in North Kansas City has been injured in a shooting. KMBC reports that the Missouri State Highway Patrol issued a "Blue Alert" late this (TUE) morning after a law enforcement officer was reportedly shot while conducting a traffic stop. With similar notification systems as an Amber Alert, a Blue Alert pertains to threats or violence against law enforcement. The alert was issued out of North Kansas City, Missouri. Officials said an officer initiated a traffic stop on the vehicle in question, the driver got out of the vehicle and started firing at the officer, causing serious injury. Authorities are searching for a gray Ford Taurus or Ford Focus with Missouri temporary tag 03GU43. The driver has only been identified as a white male with brown hair, carrying an unknown firearm. The initial incident happened on 21st Street in North Kansas City around 10:40 am.  


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.)


Lansing Pilot Dies in Crash Near Basehor

LEAVENWORTH COUNTY, Kan. (KCTV) - The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is investigating a fatal plane crash near Basehor that killed the 68-year-old pilot. According to the Leavenworth County Sheriff’s Office, the fatal crash happened shortly after 10 am Monday. It happened near 40 Highway and 158th Street, just south of Basehor. The Kansas Highway Patrol says the pilot, a man from Lansing, appeared to be the only person aboard the plane. KCTV reports that the pilot tried to make an emergency landing in a bean field.  But when the aircraft landed, authorities say it burst into flames and became fully engulfed. The NTSB said that the plane was “an experimental Nieuport 28,” a single-engine, fixed-wing aircraft.


Douglas County Sheriff IDs Man Who Drowned at Clinton Lake

DOUGLAS COUNTY, Kan. (KPR) — Deputies and game wardens searching Clinton Lake Saturday evening recovered the body of a missing swimmer.  Authorities identified the swimmer as 22-year-old Isaiah Rodriguez, a former Ottawa resident.  Friends reported him missing late Saturday afternoon.  Most recently, Rodriguez lived in Pennsylvania where he worked and went to school.


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.


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.


Kansas City Could See Record Number of 100-Degree Days this Week

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (WDAF) — According to the National Weather Service, Kansas City is poised from some record-setting heat this week. Forecasts predict Kansas City could see temperatures rise into the triple-digits today (TUE), Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The last time Kansas City saw temperatures over 100 was on September 8, 2013.  WDAF TV reports that temperatures have topped in the 90’s for the past few weeks, with a few cooler days sprinkled in. The heat prompted several metro cities to open cooling stations and locations, which will likely remain open during the potentially-record-setting spell.


Kansas Businesses Cutting Hours Due to Extreme Heat

PRATT, Kan. (KWCH) - Some Kansas businesses are scaling back their operating hours due to the excessive heat. Quality Laundry in Pratt is one of them. For the first time in its nearly 30-year history, the laundry service will close two hours early for the rest of the week. KWCH TV reports that the business lacks air-conditioning and only has fans to keep workers cool.


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.)


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.


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.)


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.


Two Killed in Early Morning Highway Crash in Jefferson County

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Kan. (LJW) - Two people were killed early Sunday morning in a crash on Kansas Highway 4 in Jefferson County.  The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the fatal accident happened at 2:25 am when a Nissan Xterra driven by 20-year-old Jeremy Burd, of Topeka, attempted to turn into a private driveway in front of a northbound Harley-Davidson motorcycle driven by 27-year-old Joseph Platt, of Meriden, on K4 near Spring Creek Road about a mile north of U.S. Highway 24. The motorcycle struck the turning vehicle in the passenger side rear door. Platt and a passenger in the Xterra, 22-year-old Cameron Meinholdt, of Topeka, were killed. A passenger in the Xterra, 20-year-old Grace Sheets, of Topeka, was taken to Stormont Vail Hospital in Topeka for treatment of suspected serious injuries. According to the Kansas Highway Patrol report, Burd and a fourth passenger in the Xterra, 20-year-old Kaleigh Blades, of Topeka, suffered no apparent injuries from the crash.  Burd was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol and vehicular homicide.


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.


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.


Missouri Swimmer Likely Infected with Deadly Amoeba in Iowa Dies

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Missouri resident who was infected with a rare brain-eating amoeba that likely happened after swimming in a southwestern Iowa lake has died. The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services says the patient died due to primary amebic meningoencephalitis, a rare and usually fatal infection caused by the naegleria fowleri ameba. Health officials say they believe the parasite was contracted at Lake of Three Fires near Bedford, Iowa, about two hours north of Kansas City. The name and age of the patient will not be released, officials said. Iowa officials closed the Lake of Three Fires State Park near Taylor County as a precaution on July 7. The beach remains closed.


South-Central Kansas Hospital Fires CEO

PRATT, Kan. (KAKE) - Pratt Regional Medical Center has fired its CEO, Darrell Lavender. The hospital's board of directors announced Lavender's termination on Friday in a letter to its employees. According to KAKE TV, the letter stated that for the past six months, the board met with doctors, administrators, staff and community members before making the decision.  The board said an interim CEO will be named until a new leader has been chosen. The hospital announced Lavender's appointment as CEO role in May 2021. He replaced longtime CEO Susan Page, who retired. Before joining Pratt Regional, Lavender's most recent role was COO of Munson Healthcare Manistee Hospital in Michigan. ( Read more.)


Foul Odor in South Topeka Caused by Business’s Failing Water Pre-Treatment System

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - A failing water pre-treatment system at a private business has created a foul odor in South Topeka.  WIBW TV reports(link is external) that the smell could spread to other areas. The City of Topeka says it has fielded various questions concerning the odor, but officials say there is no safety concern. The smell is a result of one business’s failing water treatment system. City staffers say they will work on ways to neutralize the odor as repairs to the system are being made. Due to the city's infrastructure, officials say the smell could spread to other parts of town.


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.  


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.