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Headlines for Monday, May 22, 2023

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Emily Fisher

UPDATE: Names of Victims in KC Nightclub Shooting Released

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (WDAF) — Police have released the names of three people killed in a shooting at a Kansas City nightclub early Sunday morning. The victims shot and killed at the Klymax Lounge have been identified as 24-year-old Antoinette Brenson, 33-year-old Clarence Henderson and 41-year-old Jason McConnell. Two other people at the nightclub suffered critical injuries in the shooting. Police say they are still hospitalized. Officers responded to the shooting around 1:25 am Sunday at the Klymax Lounge (4244 Indiana Avenue) and found five victims. WDAF TV reports police are still looking for the suspected shooter.

(Earlier reporting...)

Police: 3 Dead, 2 Wounded in Early Morning Shooting at Kansas City Bar

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Police say three people were killed and two others wounded in a shooting at a Kansas City bar early Sunday just before closing time. Kansas City police say one of the wounded is in critical condition. Multiple officers responded to the shooting at Klymax Lounge early Sunday and began providing medical aid. Police say two of the victims died at the scene. A third victim died at the hospital. Details about what led up to the shooting were not immediately available. Family members said Jason McConnell was one of the victims who died while working security at the door. The bar featured a performance by a local rap artist who performs under the name "Nutty Still Gassin" Saturday night. Police haven't officially identified the victims yet and they didn't release many details Sunday about what led to the shooting. No one answered the phone at the bar Sunday afternoon after it was scheduled to open.

Honystye Chancellor told the Kansas City Star that her stepfather, 41-year-old Jason McConnell, was killed in the shooting while working security at the door of the bar. After she rushed to the bar, Chancellor said, people in the crowd told her that the shooting happened just as the local rapper who was performing at the club was leaving.

The rapper who performs under the name "Nutty Still Gassin" had posted a live video from the club earlier in the night before the shooting happened on his Facebook page. Kansas City police said that when multiple officers arrived at the bar, they found five victims and began providing medical aid.

Police said two of the victims died at the scene — one was found inside the bar and the other was outside the building in Kansas City, Missouri. A third victim died at the hospital. Details about the circumstances that led to the shooting were not immediately available, and it wasn't immediately clear where the victims were when they were shot. Police said the victims were all adults, but their ages and identities were not immediately available.

Chancellor told the newspaper that McConnell was well known at the club because he was friendly and could talk to anyone. He also worked at a diner and managed a wireless communications store in the area, she said.

Chancellor said that McConnell encouraged her to turn away from violence after she got into fights often as a kid, and he was "good and nice and always trying to keep us on the right path." She said McConnell was a sneakerhead who likely owned over 100 pairs of shoes and had a 15-year-old son. Chancellor said she and her brother spent the night curled up in bed together with their mother after she returned from Klymax after they got the news. On the sidewalk outside the bar, a small memorial with flowers and chalk writing featuring the victims' names popped up in the hours following the incident.


Police Investigate After KCK Firefighters Find Body in House

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) — Kansas City, Kansas, Police say they found a body in a house after a fire early Saturday morning and are now investigating the case as a homicide. The KCK Fire Department responded to the blaze near 69 Highway just after midnight Saturday morning. KCTV reports that firefighters observed heavy smoke and flames coming from the home. Firefighters brought the fire under control and notified police after finding a body inside the home. The cause of the fire is under investigation The identity of the victim has not been determined.


Lawrence Police: Suspect in Custody After Trying to Kill a Woman

LAWRENCE, Kan. (WDAF) — A man accused of stabbing a woman in her Lawrence home Sunday night is now in custody. Lawrence police say Sean Martin Reese surrendered to police late Monday morning. Officers responded to a residence (in the 1300 block of Rhode Island) late Sunday night and found a woman outside the home who had been stabbed several times. She was taken to a hospital. Investigators learned that Reese may have left explosives inside the home. With assistance from the Leavenworth Bomb Squad, authorities found and removed homemade devices that were consistent with commercial fireworks. WDAF TV reports that authorities have not shared how the explosives were laid out inside the home.

(Earlier reporting...)

Lawrence Police Question Man Suspected in Weekend Stabbing

LAWRENCE, Kan. (KPR) – Lawrence police detectives are interviewing a man suspected of attempted murder. Police accuse Sean Martin Reese of stabbing a woman late Sunday night (in the 1300 block of Rhode Island). The woman was found outside with several stab wounds and needed to be transported to a trauma center. An alert was issued to locate Reese but he soon turned himself over to police. Through its investigation, police learned that explosives may have been planted inside the home where the stabbing is believed to have taken place. The Leavenworth Bomb Squad was called in to assist. Police say homemade devices, consistent with large scale commercial fireworks, were located and removed from the home.


Lawrence Police Arrest Man After Overnight Standoff

LAWRENCE, Kan. (KSNT) – A Lawrence man was arrested early Saturday after an overnight standoff with police. The Lawrence Police Department says the incident started late Friday night when officers responded to reports of gunshots fired at a home near Clinton Parkway in west Lawrence. that officers determined the suspect was inside another house nearby. After setting up a perimeter around the house, officers waited for the man to come out. But after several hours, officers entered the house and arrested the 48-year-old suspect. The man’s name was not released.


Kansas City Police Shoot and Kill Man During Gun Battle

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP/KPR) — The Missouri State Highway Patrol says Kansas City police shot and killed a man after he reportedly fired shots at officers during a standoff at a home. The man was identified Friday as 40-year-old Tyrone Payne. Officers responded to a report late Thursday of a man firing shots at the home. When they arrived, police say the man fired shots. The patrol says officers returned fire but Payne was not hit. More officers arrived and negotiations began to get Payne to surrender. During the negotiations, police say Payne came outside the home and fired at officers again. Police returned fire, hitting him. He died at the scene. No officers were injured.


Suspected Murder-Suicide in KCK Claims Life of Another Victim

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (WDAF) — Investigators say a third person has died from injuries suffered in a quadruple shooting at a Kansas City, Kansas, hom. Investigators announced Monday that 50-year-old Penny Smith died of the injuries she sustained last week. KCK police officers went to a home in the Piper neighborhood (near North 123rd Street and Yecker Avenue) just before 11 pm Thursday, where they found three injured women outside. Family members say eight children witnessed the shooting from inside a van. Investigators say Smith’s 30-year-old daughter, Kristy C. Throw of Shawnee, died from her injuries shortly after the shooting. Smith’s husband, 51-year-old Christopher Smith, died from a self-inflicted gunshot injury. Detectives believe he shot the victims before taking his own life. A third woman injured in the shooting remains hospitalized. Loved ones say the third victim, Chelsea Thow, was shot six times and remains hospitalized.

A GoFundMe account has been established to help support surviving family members.


Kansas Governor Touts Economic Success, $16 Billion in Business Investments Since 2019

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) – Kansas Governor Laura Kelly is touting her administration's economic development success since taking office in 2019. Kelly says Kansas has attracted more than $16 billion in private sector investment during her time as governor. As a result, she says more than 57,000 jobs were created or retained. In both 2022 and 2021, Kansas ranked first in the nation in private investment per capita and won the nation’s foremost economic development award, the Governor’s Cup from Site Selection magazine.


Kansas Farmers Abandon Wheat Fields After Extreme Drought

WICHITA, Kan. (Reuters/KPR) - Many farmers in Kansas, the nation's biggest producer of wheat used to make bread, are abandoning their crops after a severe drought and damaging cold ravaged their farms. Reuters reports that some wheat farmers are intentionally spraying their fields with crop-killing chemicals and claiming insurance payouts, betting the grain is not worth harvesting. Reuters took part in a three-day tour of the state. Other growers are turning over dismal-looking fields to cattle for grazing. Abandoning fields will lead to a smaller U.S. wheat harvest. High rates of abandonment deal an economic blow to farm towns and force wheat buyers to look elsewhere to purchase the grain.

PureField Ingredients, operator of a wheat protein facility in Russell, says it will need to buy wheat from other parts of the state due to high abandonment in western Kansas. Nationally, winter-wheat farmers plan to abandon 33% of the acres they planted, the highest percentage since World War I, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Kansas farmers are expected to abandon about 19% of the acres planted last autumn, up from 10% last year. But farmers, grain traders and representatives of major food companies who traversed the state on an annual crop tour last week warn of an even greater percentage of unharvested acres. Kansas farmers are expected to produce just 191.4 million bushels of wheat this year, the smallest since 1963.

The poor crop may leave Kansas State University's College of Agriculture with less funding than its typical $1 million a year from the Kansas Wheat Commission. That's because the commission is funded by sales of wheat.

Parts of Oklahoma are suffering too. The Oklahoma Wheat Commission says that in six northern counties, an estimated 65% to 70% of the crop will not be harvested.


Despite Recent Rains, Drought Is Getting Worse in Some Parts of Kansas

UNDATED (KNS) — Drought in some parts of Kansas is getting worse and is more severe than it was last summer. The Kansas News Service reports that last summer, the map from the U.S. Drought Monitor showed vast dryness in Texas, Kansas, California and all the states in between. The situation is now better in many places. But a look at the current drought conditions shows Kansas is about the worst spot in the nation. Nebraska and Oklahoma are also significantly dry. The National Weather Service’s long-term forecast is not predicting an extra rainy spring, so the situation may not improve soon anytime soon.


Dust Storms Return to the Midwest, One Blamed for 72-Car Pile-Up in Illinois

UNDATED (HPM) — A rare dust storm in Illinois this month caused a 72-car pileup on an interstate. Climate experts say it points to a bigger problem — soil erosion. Harvest Public Media reports that the massive dust storm was caused by unusually dry conditions and excessive wind. Eight motorists were killed when blowing dust from freshly plowed fields led to “zero visibility” on a stretch of Interstate-55. State climatologist Trent Ford says dust storms are extremely rare in Illinois – but there are still lessons to be learned. “I think there's a major discussion to take place about how we can minimize the risk of these kinds of events happening - and honestly minimize the risk of wind erosion of our soil anyway," he said. Ford says traffic advisories during dry, windy weather could help alert drivers of dangerous conditions. And land management practices like planting cover crops can protect topsoil from the wind.

Ford says factors contributing to the accident were in place long before the wind picked up. “A dust storm is kind of like wildfire, where you have conditions that lead up to it, that are actually completely separate from the conditions that actually set it in motion," he said. Ford says a lack of April rainfall led to several inches of dry topsoil that was further loosened by farming activity.


Lawrence School Board Considers Land Sale to Non-Profit Housing Group

LAWRENCE, Kan. (Lawrence Times) – The Lawrence school board is considering whether to sell some of its surplus property to a nonprofit community land trust. The Lawrence Times reports that the non-profit group, Tenants to Homeowners, submitted a bid of $1.2 million for the parcel just north of Holcomb Park on the city’s southwest side. The community group develops and manages affordable homes and provides education for renters on how to buy a home. The group has been looking for land to expand its holdings to the west side of Lawrence. It now manages about 125 properties, almost all of them in the city's east side. If the school board approves the sale, district supervisors say the profits will go into the district’s capital account and used for upkeep of buildings and for technology purchases.


Baker University's Softball Team Headed to World Series

BALDWIN CITY, Kan. (KPR) - The Baker University softball team is making its first trip to the NAIA Softball World Series this week. The NAIA Softball World Series begins Thursday in Columbus, Georgia, and the Baker Wildcats will open against a familiar opponent - Central Methodist of Fayette, Missouri. The Wildcats, with a record of 47-10, split a doubleheader with Central Methodist in April. Each game was decided by a single run. Baker advanced to the World Series by winning its opening round last week on the Wildcats home field in Baldwin City. Thursday’s game begins at noon.


Remains of WW II Airman Killed in Romania Returning to Kansas

WASHINGTON (KSNT) — The remains of a U.S. Army airman from Kansas killed in action in Europe in 1943 have been identified. The Department of Defense says Army Air Force Staff Sgt. Robert C. Elliott was originally from the town of Plains, in Meade County. KSNT reports that Elliott was 24-years-old in the summer of 1943 and served as an engineer on a B-24 bomber. The plane was shot down by anti-aircraft fire in Operation Tidal Wave in Romania. The mission has been called the “bloodiest air battle” of World War II. 90 bombers were downed and 300 airmen were killed or listed as missing in action, including Elliott. Investigators used advanced DNA analysis to finally identify Elliott. His remains will soon be returned to Kansas. His burial is planned for August 1 in Plains.


KCC Schedules Public Hearings on Evergy's Request for Rate Hike

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) – The Kansas Corporation Commission (KCC) has scheduled three public hearings in July to give Evergy customers an opportunity to learn more about the company’s recent rate increase request and to make comments before the Commission. Evergy is requesting a rate increase of $14.24 per month for Central customers and $3.47 for Evergy Metro customers. The Evergy Central service area includes Topeka, Lawrence, Olathe, Leavenworth, Atchison, Manhattan, Salina, Hutchinson, Emporia, Parsons, Wichita, Arkansas City, El Dorado, Newton, Fort Scott, Pittsburg and Independence, among other towns and rural areas. The Every Metro service area includes Lenexa, Overland Park and other communities near the Kansas City metro area.

Public hearings will be held in Topeka, Overland Park, and Wichita.

Tuesday, July 11 at 6:00 p.m.
Washburn Institute of Technology
Main Conference Center, Building A
5724 SW Huntoon St., Topeka, KS

Thursday, July 13 at 6:00 p.m.
KU Edwards BEST Conference Center
12600 S. Quivira Rd., Overland Park, KS

Thursday, July 27 at 6:00 p.m.
Wichita State University, Low Auditorium
Hughes Metropolitan Complex
5014 E 29th St. North, Wichita, KS

For those unable to attend in person, a virtual option via Zoom is available to allow remote participants to comment. Advance registration on the KCC’s website is required for those participating by Zoom. The hearings will be broadcast on the KCC’s YouTube channel for viewing only. The Commission will also accept written comments regarding the rate increase request through September 29, 2023, on its website or by mail to the Commission’s Office at 1500 SW Arrowhead Rd, Topeka, KS 66604-4027. The Commission will issue an order on the application on or before January 4, 2024.


Millions in Taxpayer Spending Planned to Get KC Ready to Host 2026 World Cup

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KNS)— Last week, politicians from Missouri and Kansas touted the spending of millions of tax dollars and unveiled a new nonprofit organization to get Kansas City ready to host men’s World Cup matches in 2026. The city was chosen as one of the host sites for the event in the United States, Mexico and Canada. The soccer tournament is the largest sporting event in the world and has been promoted as an economic boon for the region. The Kansas News Service reports that Kansas and Missouri plan to spend a combined $60 million — $50 million from Missouri and $10 million from Kansas — on the project for stadium and infrastructure support. Officials have unveiled a new nonprofit organization - KC 2026 - to lead the charge in preparation to host the men’s FIFA World Cup, which is expected to bring fans from around the world to Kansas City. KC 2026 is a nonprofit organization made up of sports and business leaders and government officials from both states. (Read more.)


List Released of Most Popular Baby Names for Boys and Girls in Kansas

TOPEKA (KSNT) – Government officials have released a list of the most popular names Kansans are selecting for their newborns. The Social Security Administration reports that the most popular boy name used for babies in 2022 was Liam. For girls, the top name was Olivia. KSNT reports that Liam and Olivia have remained the most popular baby names in Kansas since 2018.

The Top 10 List of most popular names for boys: Liam, Oliver, Henry, Theodore, Noah, James, Elijah, Asher, Hudson and William.

The Top 10 List of most popular names for girls: Olivia, Charlotte, Amelia, Emma, Harper, Evelyn, Eleanor, Hazel, Ava and Isabella.

The Social Security Administration started gathering baby names into lists in 1997 with names dating back to 1880. Every year, the list shows the impact of pop-culture on naming trends. Along with lists of each state’s most popular baby names, the SSA also keeps information on the nation's 1,000 most popular boys' and girls’ names.


Montana Governor Signs Law to Define 'Sex' as Only Male or Female

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Republican Governor Greg Gianforte has signed a bill defining the word “sex” in state law as only male or female — joining Kansas and Tennessee, which have similar laws that LGBTQ+ advocates argue will deny legal recognition to nonbinary and transgender people.

Medical professionals say the laws also ignore that some people are born as intersex — a term that encompasses about 60 conditions in which a person is born with genitalia, reproductive organs, chromosomes and/or hormone levels that don’t fit typical definitions of male or female.

The sponsor of the bill said the change is needed to clarify from a legal standpoint that “sex” and “gender” don’t mean the same thing.

The Montana bill “is an attempt to erase trans, nonbinary and two-spirit people from the code, thereby removing the rights, privileges and considerations that trans, nonbinary and Two Spirit people would have under the law," said SK Rossi last month, testifying against the legislation on behalf of the Human Rights Campaign.

"Two-spirit" is a Native American term for people with both male and female spirits.

The bill, which Gianforte signed on Friday, was approved during a legislative session that also passed a ban on gender-affirming medical care for transgender minors and saw transgender lawmaker Democratic Rep. Zooey Zephyr expelled from the House floor, following a protest against Republican lawmakers who had silenced her.

Other states have or are considering adopting similar legislation to Montana's, to define “sex,” which would block residents from changing the identifying labels on their birth certificates and driver’s licenses. Laws in Kansas and Tennessee are scheduled to take effect on July 1, while Montana's would take effect on Oct. 1.

Transgender people opt to change the sex on their birth certificates and driver’s licenses so their documentation matches their identity.

Lauren Wilson, president of the Montana chapter of the American Academy of Pediatricians, said the bill’s assertion that there are exactly two sexes isn’t true from a medical standpoint.

The bill defines female as having XX chromosomes, and a reproductive and endocrine system that produces or would produce ova, or eggs. Male is defined as having XY chromosomes and a biological system that produces or would produce sperm.

The bill was amended to say that anyone who would fall under the definition of either male or female, “but for a biological or genetic condition,” would fall under the initial determination of male or female.

“The amendment added to address intersex people actually makes the bill more inaccurate as well,” Wilson said.

A bill before the Texas legislature was amended to allow a delay in reporting the biological sex of a child if it could not be determined at birth.

The Montana bill “has no basis in science and seeks to reduce every single one of our existences to our reproductive capacity," argued Keegan Medrano, the policy director for the ACLU of Montana.

The bill's sponsor, Republican Sen. Carl Glimm, said the legislation was necessary after a 2022 court ruling in which a state judge said transgender residents could change the gender markers on their birth certificates. That ruling — which conflated sex with gender — blocked a bill sponsored by Glimm the previous year that would have only allowed a birth certificate change if the person had undergone a gender-affirming surgical procedure.

Montana's health department later passed a rule saying that no changes could be made to the listed sex on a resident's birth certificate unless it was incorrectly recorded due to a transcription error.

A person's biological sex cannot be changed, Glimm argued, in presenting his bill to the House Judiciary Committee last month.

“You may claim to be able to change your gender or express your gender in a different way, but you can never change your biological sex," he said.


This summary of area news is curated by KPR news staffers, including J. Schafer, Laura Lorson, Tom Parkinson and Kaye McIntyre. Our headlines are generally posted by 10 am weekdays and updated throughout the day. These ad-free headlines are made possible by KPR members. Become one today. And follow KPR News on Twitter.