Leavenworth police on Saturday identified the girl who was killed Friday night in an exchange of gunfire between a man and police as 5-year-old Cadence Harris of Leavenworth.
Police Chief Pat Kitchens said at an 11 a.m. news conference that contrary to initial reports that the suspect shot the little girl, authorities are now not sure how she was shot.
“It is a fairly complicated investigation,” Kitchens said. “There is a lot of information we are trying to sort through.”
Police did not release the name of the man who was wounded by police gunfire during the incident. He was taken to a Kansas City hospital where he was being treated for serious but non-life-threatening injuries.
Although police said Cadence was from Leavenworth, members of the man’s family said the girl and her mother lived with the man and his grandparents in Atchison.
Court records show that the 30-year-old man has spent time in prison and had an active warrant for his arrest after missing an Atchison County court hearing Thursday in a domestic violence case. That case appeared to involve Cadence’s mother as the victim, court records indicate.
The man’s grandmother said Saturday morning that the incident was not a kidnapping. She said her grandson was not the child’s biological father, but he had an on-again off-again relationship with the girl’s mother and was like a father to her.
She said her grandson was on medication for mental health issues.
“He had problems,” she said. “But he loved her.”
The grandmother said the incident began at their house in Atchison Friday night. She said she didn’t know exactly how it started, but at some point Cadence’s mother went across the street to call police. That’s when her grandson left with the little girl.
“He didn’t kidnap her,” the grandmother said. “She lived here with us.”
Kitchens confirmed that the incident started in Atchison. He said there was an initial attempt to stop the suspect, but he eluded police.
There was then a second attempt to stop him, and it was about 7:30 p.m. Friday when Platte County authorities notified Leavenworth police that they were in a high-speed pursuit of a man suspected of abducting a child.
The chase crossed the Missouri River into Leavenworth, where it ended at a construction site near 20th Street and Metropolitan Avenue.
Kitchens said that Leavenworth officers were involved in the chase for only about five minutes. He said speeds reached an estimated 80 to 90 mph before the chase came to a halt.
“The matter unfolded quite rapidly,” Kitchens said.
The police chief said the man got out of the car and there was an exchange of gunfire between him and two Leavenworth officers. Kitchens said Friday night that authorities thought the man fired the shot that killed the girl, but on Saturday he said that was still under investigation.
Video cameras from police patrol cars captured some of the incident, and at one point the man can be seen pointing a gun toward officers. But Kitchens said that not everything that happened was caught on tape.
The Kansas Bureau of Investigation is involved in the investigation along with Leavenworth police. Prosecutors from Leavenworth and Atchison counties are working with investigators to determine what charges will be filed and where.