Driver critical after being shot in road rage incident on Seneca

08/14/2014 8:56 AM

08/15/2014 8:25 AM

An apparent road rage incident Wednesday night in south Wichita resulted in a pickup driver being shot in the face and a bicyclist in jail, police said Thursday.

Jonathan B. Newcomb, 28, was booked into Sedgwick County Jail about 2:30 a.m. Thursday on suspicion of attempted first-degree murder, according to jail records.

Newcomb was arrested about 8 p.m. following an incident in the 1900 block of South Seneca where he allegedly shot a 39-year-old man in the face, according to police.

The 39-year-old pickup driver remained Thursday in Via Christi Hospital St. Francis in critical condition, but he is expected to survive, Lt. Jeff Gilmore said.

The incident developed when the bicyclist and the 39-year-old were southbound on Seneca. The bicyclist was on the sidewalk when the pickup driver attempted to turn into a parking lot as the bicycle was about to cross the lot’s driveway, Gilmore said.

“They almost collided,” he added.

The driver got out of the truck and an argument followed. The bicyclist pulled a handgun out of a holster that he was wearing and allegedly shot the pickup driver once in the face, Gilmore said.

“It appears to be a road-rage incident,” he said.

The driver’s wife, 41, and daughter, 8, were also in the pickup, but neither was injured.

One of several witnesses followed the bicyclist and called 911 with a description and location of the man. The bicyclist was arrested in the 2400 block of South Seneca, according to the police report.

Video of the incident from cameras at surrounding businesses is being reviewed by police, Gilmore said.

The bicyclist was legally carrying the handgun, he said. No permit is required for open carry of a firearm.

Open carry has long been allowed in Kansas, though some cities – including Wichita – had ordinances that prohibited it. At the request of the city of Wichita’s law department, state Attorney General Derek Schmidt issued an opinion in December 2011 that said the city’s law was out of line with state law.

In July 2012, the City Council brought its ordinance in line with the state mandate.

But ultimately that action wouldn’t have mattered because this year the Legislature passed a sweeping law that greatly limited municipalities’ right to regulate guns, including open carry.

Gilmore said police have seen a “slight increase” lately in firearm cases in general.

He also had some advice for how to avoid angry incidents on the streets and highways:

“Don’t engage in road-rage incidents. Keep to yourself. Don’t pay attention to someone acting aggressively and immediately call 911 for assistance.

Contributing: Stan Finger of The Eagle.

Reach Rick Plumlee at 316-268-6660 or rplumlee@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @rickplumlee.

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