Wichita police are trying to sort out why a 41-year-old man wearing nothing but a white bathrobe smashed his car into his former house in Wilson Estates, then began firing randomly with a high-powered rifle early Friday.
Minutes later, several police officers shot the man as he came around the corner of a privacy fence, his rifle pointed at them, authorities said. He died at 6:15 a.m., less than four hours later, at Wesley Medical Center.
His name was not released.
"We have no idea why he was at this residence or why he was firing shots," Lt. Todd Ojile said.
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The man had lived at the house until about 1 1/2 years ago, Ojile said, but the house is now vacant.
Residents of the neighborhood called to report gunfire in the 8900 block of East Churchill Court, between Rock Road and Webb Road south of 21st Street.
Officers responding to the call heard more gunshots as they worked their way around the circular street that has cul-de-sacs linked to it, Ojile said. They saw the man fire at a pickup, which fled. The driver escaped harm.
The gunman fired more shots as officers parked next to the cul-de-sac.
"The officers were not sure where the shots were coming from — they were just hearing them," Ojile said. "They didn't know if he had moved from the original location," which was the front yard of a house.
"They were using houses, using other vehicles... anything else to try to get up there and try to spot him and locate him."
As the man came into view again, Ojile said, he fired toward a house north and east of where he stood. No one in that house was injured.
The gunman then disappeared into the backyard of his former house, which has a 10-foot-tall privacy fence.
As officers were trying to establish a perimeter around the house, the man appeared from around the corner of the fence. Somehow, Ojile said, he had gotten outside of the fence.
He raised his rifle at officers, who scrambled for cover, but he did not fire before retreating back around the corner, Ojile said.
"A few seconds later, the individual reappeared from around the fence" with his rifle leveled at the officers, Ojile said. "At that time, officers opened fire on him."
The gunman was hit several times. He never fired his rifle.
"The officers had a rifle pointed at them," Ojile said. "They do not know this individual's mindset."
They feared for their lives, he said, so they opened fire.
"Taking another individual's life is not an easy thing," Ojile said.
Officers went to the man's current residence in the 13400 block of East Mainsgate, about 1 1/2 miles away, to make sure there were no victims there, Ojile said.
Authorities did not know if the man was under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
He has no criminal history, police said, and it's not known yet why he moved from the house.
"He was not foreclosed on," Ojile said.
The officers involved have been placed on administrative leave, which is standard procedure. The Kansas Bureau of Investigation is heading the investigation.
This is the second fatal shooting involving Wichita police officers in less than a week. Just before midnight on Nov. 5, a 32-year-old man was shot to death in south Wichita after he pointed a gun at an officer as he stepped outside his apartment.