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Police, residents pick up pieces after deadly standoff

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Friday, July 12, 2013, at 1:59 p.m.
  • Updated Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014, at 11:09 a.m.

Alyssa Cooper wants to go home. But after waiting for two hours to retrieve formula and clothes for her infant son and 2-year-old daughter, police told her nothing was salvageable.

The tear gas and water used to flush Jared Woosypiti out of his apartment has destroyed pretty much everything, she said. Hers is the apartment police say the man broke into through a wall.

“We don’t have anything,” said Cooper, who took her two young children shopping for new clothes Friday afternoon.

“When we left Southlake today, all my kids were wearing (were) bathing suits because that’s all we had.”

Residents of Southlake Village slowly began to assess the damage to their homes a day following a tense 32-hour standoff that left a gunman dead inside an apartment after he refused to surrender to law enforcement. Most left and returned freely after police stopped blocking the entrance to the 12-building complex, 4141 S. Seneca, early Friday afternoon.

Although some residents of buildings 7 and 8 – part of the crime scene – were escorted into their apartments by law enforcement to retrieve belongings, Cooper said she won’t be allowed back in until Monday.

“They (police) told me any clothes, any food, or anything to sit on won’t be salvageable,” Cooper said.

Earlier Friday she said: “My 2-year-old keeps asking ‘When do we go home, mommy? When do we go home?’

“I don’t know what to tell her.”

A pair of buildings remained cordoned off by crime scene tape Friday as authorities carefully sifted through the apartment where Woosypiti was pronounced dead about 10:30 Thursday night.

Police have said the buildings are part of the crime scene and the investigation into events during the two-day ordeal could take several days.

A Wichita police document confirmed Friday thatWoosypiti was the person who was killed Thursday night during the prolonged standoff. The document also said Woosypiti was killed by police gunfire, ending the ordeal, which started about 2:30 p.m. Wednesday. Police have declined to verbally confirm that Woosypiti, 24, was the suspect in the case or to say whether the fatal shot came from police or if it was self-inflicted.

Woosypiti was wanted on suspicion of firing shots in a Wichita Kmart on Wednesday afternoon and for stabbing his girlfriend July 4 at his residence in Derby.

Because of the complexities in reconstructing how the incident unfolded at the apartment complex, Police Chief Norman Williams won’t comment on the case until Monday, said Lt. Doug Nolte, the Wichita Police Department’s spokesman.

Although no new details were forthcoming from authorities Friday, the police document described Woosypiti as barricading himself in the apartments and shooting at officers several times during the standoff. “A short time later,” the document said, Woosypiti once again shot and officers “shot back, killing (Woosypiti).”

While the standoff was still in progress, Truman Ware, a 75-year-old uncle of Woosypiti, was arrested about 9 p.m. Thursday on suspicion of obstructing the legal process at the scene, according to a police document.

Ware was arrested when he ran through the complex grounds and got inside perimeter tape in an attempt to reach Woosypiti, police said.

The incident began Wednesday afternoon when Woosypiti allegedly fled a shooting and apparent attempted robbery at a Kmart pharmacy at 47th Street South and Broadway then barricaded himself in Southlake Village apartment No. 804. Residents have said they saw a man peel into the complex then run to the apartment shortly before police arrived.

Complex co-owner and manager Brent Davis said Friday that despite reports to the contrary, Woosypiti was not one of his residents. Apartment 804, he said, was leased to a young couple a few months ago.

Davis said Woosypiti is “an acquaintance of an acquaintance” of the woman who lives in the apartment and had apparently stayed at her home at some point immediately before the standoff ensued. Residents said Friday they saw a woman emerge from the apartment Woosypiti was in after the standoff began. Early reports indicated another person was possibly in the apartment with him.

Shortly before the Kmart shooting, Woosypiti reportedly borrowed the green Ford Taurus the couple drove. Police tracked the Taurus to the complex using a partial license plate and vehicle description provided by witnesses.

Throngs of law enforcement vehicles and a SWAT team arrived within minutes, residents say.

“They flooded the area,” said Kimberly Kinne, a resident in building 9 who watched the standoff from her second-floor balcony as law enforcement congregated below. “It was kind of madness. It was like a scene out of a movie.”

Kinne and her husband, Brian Kinne, said they felt safe amid the mass of law enforcement officers who responded to the standoff. She said children played outside nearby at times during the ordeal, and they were advised to go inside only a few times.

“They had this area feeling very safe, very quickly,” Kinne said.

Another woman, however, said she “felt like a hostage.” The woman, who asked not to be named, said authorities taped off her building “because we were in the line of fire.”

“I couldn’t get out,” she said.

Loud explosions were heard Thursday evening that residents watching the standoff think came from percussion grenades. Some said they felt a wave of pressure after the explosion.

“It wasn’t enough to knock you down but you could feel the pressure,” said Richard Tracy, a resident of building 4 who spent most of the standoff in and around the apartment complex. “The loudness is like 10 times that of an M80.”

He added: “It just completely blew the walls out” of the apartment where Woosypiti stayed.

Following the standoff’s end Thursday, police said it was unclear what kind or the number of weapons Woosypiti had available to him during the standoff. Tracy said it sounded like the suspect was firing some type of handgun such as, “a type of 9mm or a Glock.”

Tracy did say he heard one officer say the suspect “had a slew of guns.”

Christie Gregg, a high school friend of Woosypiti’s and a resident of Southlake Village, said she watched much of the standoff from the parking lot. Gregg and her son live in building 3. Other residents say they were part of a crowd allowed as close as the crime scene tape throughout much of the standoff.

“At the end he walked toward the main bathroom, which is a lot more vulnerable,” Gregg said, recounting reports given to residents from law enforcement. “It was kind of like he was giving up.”

The two said the first sounds of gunfire Thursday night lasted about one to two minutes.

“He would fire three or four from his gun and then the police department would return fire,” Tracy said.

Then a percussion grenade went off.

“They waited about 20 minutes to see if he moved, then fired another grenade,” Tracy said. “It was after that second grenade when law enforcement entered the apartment.”

“They tried everything the could to have it end differently,” Gregg said.

The apartment Woosypiti was holed up in is in the southwest corner of Southlake Village. Windows had been blown out of at least two apartments in building 8. A deck was missing. Debris was scattered beneath a gaping hole knocked into the outer wall. A SWAT vehicle remained nearby Friday afternoon.

The complex’s lake is about 20 yards west of the building where Woosypiti barricaded himself. Building 7, just to the north, blocks about 50 feet of the front of building 8, which made it difficult for law enforcement to access the apartment, according to reports.

Davis, the complex co-owner and manager, said the known damage is isolated to six apartments in the wing of building 8 where the shootout took place. It remains unclear how many residents were affected. Besides No. 8, building 7 is temporarily closed to residents.

“We haven’t gotten close enough to see just how bad it is. But we’re assuming it’s complete destruction,” he said of the damage. Davis said that the building 8’s 18 other units “were untouched.” He said he hopes most displaced residents can return by Monday.

But those in the damaged apartments, like Cooper’s, will be forced to seek permanent housing elsewhere, he added.

Pat Thomas, a Red Cross disaster specialist, said some residents in buildings 7 and 8 were able to retrieve necessities on Friday but then had to leave.

A Red Cross shelter remained open Friday night at Ruth Clark Elementary, 1900 W. 55th St. South. People were offered beds, meals, mental health services and referrals to other programs providing aid long-term.

On Thursday the shelter housed five residents, said Thomas, who is part of a crew providing relief services. Police indicated that many of the displaced residents were staying with friends and family.

“People are distraught. Distressed. Aggravated they are not able to get into their apartments,” Thomas said.

“When you are displaced from home, it’s a hard situation.”

Earlier Friday, a Wichita police officer guarding the complex turned away a Waste Management garbage truck trying to enter because, he said, some of the dumpsters are part of the crime scene.

A heating and air conditioning repair van, however, was allowed through because, the officer said, some water heaters apparently malfunctioned after electricity was restored to one of the buildings. Police on Thursday said power was cut to the man’s apartment to help drive him out.

Late Friday morning, a red helicopter circled low over the apartment complex. A police officer spoke with each person attempting to drive into the complex. Some, like Tracy Keck, who lives in building No. 7, was allowed in briefly to retrieve medication for a family member.

She said she saw more than a dozen officers assessing the crime scene, which stretches across three buildings.

“There was a lot of shooting, so there’s a lot of bullets in the walls,” said Keck, whose home was searched when the standoff began Wednesday afternoon because the suspect had parked in her parking stall. Her teen children were home at the time.

Reach Amy Renee Leiker at 316-268-6644 or aleiker@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @amyreneeleiker.

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