Crime & Courts

February 13, 2014

Woman convinced she was target in attack that killed Steckline co-worker

Hours after Wichita police arrested her ex-boyfriend late Wednesday in the killing of one of her co-workers, Lisa Bryce recounted what happened when she arrived at work Monday morning.

Hours after Wichita police arrested her ex-boyfriend late Wednesday in the killing of one of her co-workers, Lisa Bryce recounted what happened when she arrived at work Monday morning.

She had pulled into the parking lot at Steckline Communications on Maize south of Kellogg just after 8 a.m. and had seen a co-worker running toward her.

He was crying and yelling: “Daniel’s dead! They killed Daniel! Daniel’s dead!”

Bryce, the 38-year-old office manager, yelled back: “What? Who?”

As the co-worker got closer, he blurted out: “Where are your children? You guys need protection.”

“I went, ‘What? No. No,’” she said in an interview Thursday evening, about 18 hours after police arrested her 31-year-old ex-boyfriend after a traffic stop on North Woodlawn during which he reportedly stabbed himself in the stomach.

Monday morning, at the door to the Steckline office building, which houses radio stations and an agricultural network, two other co-workers looked at Bryce with somber faces. “You have got to call the cops right now and get protection for you and your children,” one of them told her.

“And you cannot go downstairs.”

“I kept asking to go (downstairs), but they would not let me go,” she recalled.

Later, Bryce learned that something had been left for her at the offices, something that convinced her that she was the target of whoever killed Daniel Flores, a 25-year-old co-worker whose body was found in the basement area. He suffered what police have described as blunt-force injuries.

Bryce said she couldn’t discuss what was left for her but said it clearly told her that the attack had nothing to do with Flores, a sports-loving K-State graduate who operated computer and audio equipment and had come in to work on Sunday.

She told police that Flores was “a sweet, innocent kid that was just at work.”

During a briefing for reporters earlier Thursday, police Lt. Todd Ojile, head of the homicide unit, said, “Right now, it looks like he (Flores) could have been at the wrong place at the wrong time.”

When police asked Bryce who she thought could have killed Flores, she said she told them, “I just kicked my boyfriend out of my house.”

Her ex-boyfriend is Antwon Banks. She had known him about 15 months; they began dating in October 2012. He worked for Spirit AeroSystems. She met him while he was an assistant football coach at Campus High School in Haysville. He coached two of her children.

She had known Banks to be loving and thoughtful. She said he had been to her office many times during their relationship, bringing snacks, picking up her car to wash it for her, sending pizza to the office because he knew that she and her co-workers were sometimes too busy to go out for lunch.

Just this past Thanksgiving, she said, he organized a charity event at his church that fed 400 people.

But he could also be jealous and obsessive, she said, and that was part of the reason she broke up with him.

“I’m not shocked that he attempted to try to scare me,” she said. “I’m shocked that he did it to the extent that he did.

“I look at Daniel (Flores) as my hero and my angel. Because if it wasn’t for Daniel, I don’t know what would have been next.”

Police said there had been a struggle where they found Flores’ body, in a foyer area of the basement level of the office building.

And Bryce said, with tears choking her voice: “I feel guilty that my office had to deal with something that was personal. I feel guilty that I had co-workers who could not come back” because they were so scared.

“Of course I feel guilty.

“Because if it wasn’t for me, that man would never have been in that building.”

During Thursday’s briefing for reporters, Ojile wouldn’t give the suspect’s name, but a police report said it was Banks who stabbed himself as he was being stopped by police on North Woodlawn.

Ojile confirmed that the suspect is an ex-boyfriend of a woman who works at the Steckline offices. Ojile wouldn’t discuss a motive for the killing.

The police report about the traffic stop said police found the suspect with a knife “stuck in his stomach” after an officer made a traffic stop at East Quail Ridge and North Woodlawn, north of K-96, shortly after 10 p.m. Wednesday. It was a large knife, Ojile said. The suspect admitted that he stabbed himself, the report said. He was taken by ambulance to Wesley Medical Center in serious condition, Ojile said.

Ojile said he expected that the suspect, who underwent surgery, could be released from the hospital later Thursday or Friday and would be booked into the jail on suspicion of felony murder. The suspect was under guard and in police custody at Wesley Medical Center, Ojile said.

The arrest resulted from a Crime Stoppers tip received Wednesday, and that tip prompted interviews that led to the arrest, Ojile said. “The Crime Stoppers tip was huge for us,” he said. Authorities had a felony warrant for the suspect and were watching his residence.

Police had interviewed the suspect on Monday, Ojile said.

Ojile said he didn’t expect any more arrests in the case.

In recent years, Banks has been an assistant coach at a number of area schools, said Mike Schartz, the football defensive coordinator and strength coach at Wichita’s Southeast High School.

The season before last, when Schartz was football coach at Campus High in the Haysville school district, Banks was an assistant coach working with the defensive line.

“I thought he handled the kids well,” Schartz said. Although Banks was a disciplinarian, “he also knew how to love ’em up,” Schartz said.

Banks has “two wonderful little kids” of his own whom he would bring to football practice, Schartz said.

“His love was football. He loved the game and loved working with kids,” Schartz said.

As for the news of Flores’ killing and Banks’ arrest, Schartz said, what Banks is now suspected of is “not the man that I knew, and I’m sorry for Daniel’s (Flores) family and their loss.”

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