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Wichita police: New year starts out ‘with a bang’

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2014, at 7:56 p.m.
  • Updated Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014, at 4:49 p.m.

Photos

Police officers worked three shootings in northeast Wichita within a little more than 30 minutes of each other not long after the new year began. One shooting involved shots apparently fired at officers.

A teenager was hit in a drive-by at 1:45 a.m. Wednesday in the 2200 block of North Minnesota, which is between Grove and I-135, police said. No one was hurt in a shooting that included shots apparently being fired at about 1:30 a.m. at officers near 17th and Estelle.

“Wichita started out the new year with a bang, literally,” Sgt. Ed Brower said.

And in near chaos.

A holiday night became so active with lawbreakers that Sedgwick County sheriff’s deputies and Haysville police were called in to help respond, Brower said.

“People getting choked, stabbed, DUIs … it was crazy busy,” he said. “We were blown up with violent crimes up north here.”

The first shooting was reported at 1:13 a.m. in the parking lot of the Church’s Chicken at 12th and Hillside, a Sedgwick County dispatch supervisor said. Officers responded but couldn’t find anything, she said.

Less than 10 minutes later, police were called to a disturbance at a party near 17th and Estelle, just west of Hillside.

At least five shots were fired in their direction from down the street near 16th and Estelle, Sgt. Chris McAuliffe said.

Officers quickly took cover. Later, police found shell casings near where the shots came from, Brower said.

There was some discussion among police about whether someone was firing celebratory shots in the air and the bullets were falling back down through the trees – or if the shots were intentionally aimed at police.

“The bullets came directly by them,” Brower said, “so they were shot at directly.”

LaDonna Horton, who lives in the 1700 block of North Estelle, said she was returning home from a church service when she saw about eight police cars in the area and 17th Street blocked.

“When I was a kid we had shootings around here,” said Horton, 36, “but nothing recently.”

Vergie Brown, who lives in the 1600 block of North Estelle, said, “We just heard, boom, boom! I didn’t know what was happening. It was dark.”

Police remained in the neighborhood for two or three hours, she said.

Brown said this wasn’t how she wanted to see the neighborhood start the new year.

Arlyssa Willis, who lives at 17th and Estelle, said one of her friends tried to leave shortly after the shooting, but police told her to go back inside.

“It was scary,” she said.

As police were working that scene, other officers responded to the drive-by shooting on North Minnesota.

Witnesses told police multiple shots were fired from a white, older model Ford, McAuliffe said. A 17-year-old was hit in the leg while standing outside a house where he was attending a party.

He was taken by private vehicle to Wesley Medical Center, where he was treated and released, McAuliffe said.

As of early evening Wednesday, no suspects had been found in the North Estelle or North Minnesota shootings, Brower said.

“These shootings were all in the same proximity,” he said. “But we don’t know of any correlation between them.”

A fourth shooting occurred in southeast Wichita about 2:30 a.m., but it was accidental, the dispatch supervisor said.

A man was taken to the hospital in critical condition after being shot in the neck in the 2300 block of East Pawnee, near I-135, the supervisor said. An update on his condition was not available.

Reach Rick Plumlee at 316-268-6660 or rplumlee@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @rickplumlee.

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