Wichita police are hoping cellphone videos will lead to the arrest of the person who fatally shot one man and wounded six others in Old Town over the weekend.
Kolby Hopkins, 25, died after he was shot in the head just before 2 a.m. Sunday in the 100 block of North Mead, Lt. Randy Reynolds said Monday.
“At this time it appears to be one shooter who fired multiple rounds,” Reynolds said. “There is some indication this may have stemmed from an argument that was occurring in the street.”
All six people wounded in the shooting incident – men ranging in age from 25 to 35 – are expected to recover, police said.
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There were hundreds of people in a nearby parking lot at the time of the shooting, but most fled as the shots were fired. Officers who were at Douglas and Rock Island heard the gunshots to their west and rushed to the scene.
Officers were there “within seconds,” Reynolds said, but most of the crowd had already scattered by then.
“We only had a handful of people that stuck around to speak with police,” he said. “Most of those witnesses we had to track down ourselves.”
Some of the wounded men are documented gang members, Reynolds said, but Hopkins was not.
Police Chief Norman Williams said there’s “nothing to indicate this individual was provoked,” meaning no one else apparently pulled a gun.
“This act of violence was done by a cowardly person that made the decision to fire a gun in a crowd of hundreds of people that were down having a good time on a Saturday night,” Williams said.
Considering how many people were in that area, he added, “We’re fortunate we didn’t have more people injured.”
From security video in the area, Williams said, “We can see that people had their cameras out filming the arguments, filming what was going on.”
Investigators would like witnesses to share their videos with police because it may allow them to identify the shooter.
“We’re going to need the citizens’ help in solving this case,” Williams said. “Don’t think what you have is insignificant. It’s like putting together a jigsaw puzzle.”
Witnesses are encouraged to call 911, Crime Stoppers at 316-267-2111 or the homicide section at 316-268-4181.
Kolby Hopkins’ father, Eric Hopkins, said any information about the shooting – including cellphone footage of the incident – could help solve the crime and “will be greatly appreciated from our family.”
Kolby Hopkins’ mother, Mary Rummans, added, “I pray that someone will come forward.”
The incident is one in a string of violent occurrences at Old Town over the past couple of years. Most have typically occurred shortly after 2 a.m., when the bars close for the night.
In response, the Old Town Association hired more security and installed more security cameras. The Wichita City Council changed an ordinance to prohibit loitering between midnight and 6 a.m., and police have beefed up patrols in Old Town on the weekends.
Williams said there were 11 police officers in Old Town at the time of the shooting.
“And still the person made the decision to go down there and to inflict violence and to kill somebody,” he said. “That’s a concern.”
Police officials will meet with the Old Town Association to review security procedures in the area.
“They’re fluid,” Williams said of the security measures used by police. “They’re not etched in stone.”
A review of statistics for the patrol beat that includes Old Town shows crime is actually down in that part of town over last year. Overall crime in the seven most serious offenses – including homicides, rapes, robberies, aggravated assaults and simple assaults – is down more than 30 percent over the same time last year.
The most substantial decreases are in aggravated assaults and simple assaults, which were each down at least 39 percent.
The statistics include areas west of Old Town because the police beat that includes the entertainment district extends from Washington to Broadway.
“We’re a victim of our own success” because the entertainment district draws so many people, said Old Town Association president Charlie Claycomb.
“It’s still a safe place to go.”
Contributing: Tim Potter of The Eagle