Shooting in woods prompts large-scale search for suspect
Wichita police arrested a homeless registered sex offender in a shooting Tuesday near a Wichita bike path that meanders near a homeless encampment.
The shooting involved two homeless men who had been in a fight, police said. The shooting critically injured a 36-year-old man. A 59-year-old man, Richard Fagan, allegedly used a shotgun to shoot and critically injure the younger man, police said. Fagan has been booked into jail on suspicion of attempted first-degree murder and criminal possession of a firearm.
Fagan had been staying at the homeless encampment near I-135 and Hydraulic for about a year and a half, according to the Sheriff’s Office. But his address listed on the registry is about 4 miles away, at 402 E. Second. The registry exists so that the public can see where offenders are living.
Anyone using the bike path or nearby Chapin Park would not know there was a sex offender living in an encampment near the river.
Still, sheriff’s officials said, Fagan was complying with the offender registry requirements by listing the downtown Wichita address where he goes for services provided to the homeless.
The East Second address is for the United Methodist Open Door facility that helps homeless people; Sedgwick County’s community mental health provider, COMCARE, rents space at the location for outreach staff to work with the homeless, county spokesman Van Williams said.
Even though Fagan doesn’t have an actual address because he is transient, he has complied with the sheriff’s offender registration unit by informing the office of the places he has been staying, sheriff’s Lt. Tim Myers said.
The offender registration unit has notes on Fagan’s whereabouts confirming that as late as last month he was saying that he was staying on the east side of Hydraulic on the north side of the river, said Sheriff’s Deputy Kevin Lovingier, with the offender registration unit. That spot that Fagan listed is the location of Tuesday’s shooting.
Fagan has been in and out of Kansas prisons since the late 1980s. The crime that put him on the offender registry was a 1994 conviction for aggravated sexual battery of a 33-year-old woman in Wichita. Kansas Department of Corrections records show he was convicted of aggravated burglary and aggravated sexual battery in Sedgwick County in 1988. He also has several DUI convictions. In his latest felony, he was convicted in a conspiracy to commit a robbery in 2013 and was released from prison in January 2016.
Fagan’s arrest in Tuesday’s shooting came after a two-hour search of the woods along the Arkansas River in south Wichita, the site of a homeless camp near a bike path and where Fagan had been staying.
An argument between the two homeless men led to the shooting, police said.
Police gave this account: At around 9 a.m. Tuesday, police went to the area of I-135 and Hydraulic, where the 36-year-old man had been shot in the stomach with a pump-action shotgun.
The man was taken to a hospital with critical injuries, a Sedgwick County emergency dispatch supervisor said.
The shooting happened near the homeless camp along the bike path, Wichita police Officer Charley Davidson said. The woods along the trail follow the river and are littered with sleeping bags, makeshift campfires, animal hides and old tents.
The 36-year-old man had been staying at the camp with a 25-year-old woman.
After the 36-year-old man was shot, he and the woman ran from the woods to Hydraulic. The shooter ran the opposite way, into the woods along the river, east of the bridge at Hydraulic.
Police were looking for a man in tan coveralls with a pump-action shotgun, according to Davidson and emergency radio traffic.
Police set up a perimeter near the woods by the water treatment plant in south Wichita at around 9:10 a.m. Traffic was blocked on Hydraulic near I-135.
During the search, a Kansas Highway Patrol plane circled a wide area over the river, and police officers with search dogs, including a bloodhound, checked the woods near the river and along the bike path.
At around 11:20 a.m., Wichita police found Fagan in the woods, Davidson said.
The area is close to Chapin Park and the Starlite Drive-In. It is not a heavily populated area.