Last summer, Jim and Irene Steele said, there was “a lot of carrying on” next door.
Loud parties, a lot of drinking and dancing in the street at 334 N. Parkdale in west Wichita. Neighbors called police several times, and the message seemed to get through. Things quieted down.
“We thought, ‘Maybe it’s over,’ ” Irene Steele said.
They were wrong.
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Shortly after 9 p.m. Monday, police say, a 38-year-old man – identified in arrest records, booking reports and the Sedgwick County Jail inmate registry as Pettix McMillan – shot his wife and two of their children.
Two of the victims – the suspect’s 36-year-old wife and 13-year-old son – fled the house after being shot and asked neighbors to call 911, Lt. Randy Reynolds said. Officers arrived at the house near Central and Maize Road to find the gunman gone and a 5-year-old boy shot in the head.
They “began doing a very, very thorough neighborhood canvass,” Reynolds said.
The search included K-9 units, and they found the husband in a wooded area east of the house next to Cowskin Creek about two hours after the shooting. After “a brief foot chase,” McMillan was apprehended near Central and Maize.
All three shooting victims were taken to Via Christi Hospital St. Francis. The adult victim told police the shooting followed an argument over one of the couple’s other children, who does not live there, Reynolds said.
McMillan is accused of shooting his wife in the upper left torso with a small-caliber handgun.
McMillan also shot his 13-year-old son in the head, Reynolds said. The couple’s 5-year-old son was also shot in the head near his left eye, Reynolds said.
“By the grace of God,” Reynolds said, the boy is recovering at the hospital.
All three were listed in stable and fair condition Tuesday night.
The victims were not struck by randomly fired shots, Reynolds said. Each was targeted, he said.
“I don’t know if it was divine intervention,” Reynolds said, “but something was on the kids’ side.”
McMillan has been arrested three times since January and charged with misdemeanor domestic violence in Wichita Municipal Court, Reynolds said. In one of those incidents, he fired a gun inside the house.
A protection from abuse order was filed against him, but it was allowed to expire in February.
The couple has two older children, ages 16 and 20, who were not at the house at the time of the shooting.
The Steeles said they were watching the news at their house next door when an officer knocked on their door at about 9:20 p.m. and told them to go to the basement if they had one.
“He asked if we heard any shots,” Jim Steele said. “We said no.”
They spent perhaps half the night in the basement, just to be safe.
“We knew bad things were going on,” Jim Steele said, “but we didn’t dream something like this would happen.”