Crime & Courts

January 2, 2012

Man sees killing unfold outside Wichita apartment

John Jones actually saw and heard what became Wichita’s second homicide in an hour on New Year’s morning.

John Jones actually saw and heard what became Wichita’s second homicide in an hour on New Year’s morning.

It sounded like a mob surging by his apartment building, in the 2500 block of West Wildwood, near South Meridian. It would end in a fatal beating and stabbing. From a second-floor window, Jones, 22, saw part of it unfold. To Jones, it looked like one group of about 15 people, mostly men but including a couple of women, against two men “that were getting jumped.”

At one point, a third man intervened, trying to fight off the crowd. Jones estimated the fight lasted 15 to 20 minutes.

One of the two men being attacked collapsed on a sidewalk near a pine tree. “He pretty much came from behind the tree and just fell.” After he went down, a big man came up and kicked the man three times, hard.

The man lay there a “good 15 minutes,” Jones estimated. The second injured man got up and left.

Jones waited for the crowd to leave. He said he feared they would turn on him.

When Jones crossed the street and put his fingers to the man’s neck, he couldn’t feel a pulse. The man, who appeared to be in his 20s, had blood on his abdomen and face. His arm was drawn-up.

After Jones checked for a pulse, he waited about two minutes before trying to call 911. He said he didn’t think of calling 911 before.

“I didn’t think anybody was going to die.”

When he called 911, he got a recording saying all lines were busy. He didn’t call back because police were arriving.

Records show the first 911call came at 2:44 a.m. It was reported as an assault, not a stabbing. The caller said people had been fighting and someone was on the ground. A police unit was close to the scene at 2:57. The first unit waited for a backup. Two units arrived at 3:04. At 3:05, an EMS crew listed the man as “code blue” – not breathing. He appeared to have a stab wound to his upper chest. He was pronounced dead at St. Francis Hospital, according to 911 records.

Police interviewed Jones.

Although police gave no information about the death on Monday, records showed that a 21-year-old Wichita man had been arrested Sunday and was in jail on suspicion of second-degree murder related to a disturbance in the 2500 block of West Wildwood – where the stabbing occurred.

Police are expected to release information Tuesday.

About 36 hours after the violence, on Monday, Jones walked over to the spot where the man fell. “There’s still blood there,” he said. Two areas of blood remained on the sidewalk – one where Jones saw the man collapse – and another place apparently where the second man was injured. The blood stains are about 50 yards down the sidewalk from Wildwood Park.

Two young women placed a bouquet by the spot Monday afternoon.

Jones said he’s troubled by the death.

“My heart goes out to his family, because that’s no way for nobody to die, that young and on New Year’s.”

The stabbing was the second Wichita homicide early New Year’s morning. At 2:02 a.m., 911 received its first call about a shooting on South Madison Court, near 63rd South and Hydraulic, in an area of large, newer houses.

There was a gathering at a house at the end of the cul-de-sac on Madison Court. A neighbor, 58-year-old Guy Gentry, knew that cars lined the street outside. Gentry, who years before had been a police officer, was on his computer at about 2 a.m. when he heard five or six gunshots. They sounded as if they came from in front of his house. Partly because of his experience in law enforcement, he said, his reaction was to drop to the floor. He flipped off the light switch and his computer terminal, darkening the room. He called 911, and while shielding himself by a wall, peered out a front window in another room.

It was chaotic, “people going every which direction,” Gentry recalled. Cars were starting up and racing away.

“So I knew something bad had to have happened.”

Soon, police blocked off the street.

Police said Sunday that a carload of people left a party on Madison Court and that a man was struck when someone fired into a vehicle. Police were called to a QuikTrip in Derby where someone had driven a vehicle carrying a gunshot victim. The man died at a hospital.

After the shooting, Gentry saw investigators photograph an off-white Chrysler 300 with shiny wheels and low-profile tires. The car remained on the street long after all the other cars were gone, then was removed on a flat-bed.

Police are expected to give information about the shooting on Tuesday.

“My heart goes out to the family of the victim,” Gentry said.

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