Authorities on Wednesday surrounded a south Wichita apartment building after a man fired shots in a nearby Kmart during a reported robbery attempt and threatened to shoot law enforcement officers if they came after him.
By nightfall the man had refuted law enforcement’s repeated attempts to contact him, as he barricaded himself alone in an apartment at Southlake Village, 4141 S. Seneca. Wichita police Capt. Max Tenbrook said Wednesday night that the man, who was considered armed and dangerous, had been seen peeking through windows and that “there have been shots fired but not by law enforcement.”
He added that the area was contained and there was “no public danger” as of Wednesday night. A SWAT team was on the scene as well as members of the Wichita Police Department’s bomb squad, Tenbrook said.
Meanwhile, several frustrated Southlake Village residents who tried to return home or pick up children were being turned away and told by police “a dangerous situation” had transpired inside.
Law enforcement sources told The Eagle on Wednesday the suspect is the same man who was being sought for attempted murder in the stabbing of a woman on July 4 in Derby. Derby police have been looking for Jared Lee Woosypiti, 24, in connection with that incident, according to a news release from the city of Derby.
As for Wednesday’s situation, officers started negotiating with Woosypiti after a SWAT team responded to Southlake Village apartments, located south of MacArthur, following a shooting at the Kmart at Broadway and 47th Street South. Customers began calling in reports of shooting in the store at about 1:35 p.m., Tenbrook said. Some said a man just came in and began firing, while others said the shots were fired as part of an attempted robbery at the store pharmacy, according to a Sedgwick County dispatch supervisor.
No one was injured in the incident, authorities have said, but the store was placed on lockdown into the early evening. Witnesses said the armed man left in a green Ford Taurus. The car was spotted a short time later at the Southlake Village complex after witnesses provided a partial license plate number to police, Tenbrook said.
Witnesses described the suspect as a white man in his mid-20s who is about 6-foot-1 and 205 pounds, the dispatch supervisor said. He had heavily jelled hair and no facial hair. He wore khaki shorts, dark sunglasses and a long-sleeved gray shirt with dark pinstripes.
Fourteen-year-old Paul Wise, who lives at Southlake Village, said he saw the green Taurus peel into the complex parking lot and a man run into Building 8.
That was moments after the shooting.
“The cops started showing up and getting everybody out” of Building 8, Wise said. He later left the complex with his sister, Natalie Wise, who had come to drop off her nephew but was turned away by police.
“We’ve never had any problems here,” said Natalie Wise, who lived in the complex until about six months ago. “It’s been a very nice place to live.”
Jeff Taborsky, a maintenance man for Southlake Village, said police confirmed that the suspect was in the complex, then sealed off Building 8 and evacuated all of its residents except for Apartment 804.
“About 1:35 p. m. a detective stopped me and put me in his car and took me back to look at” the green Taurus parked under a carport, Taborsky said. Residents of the complex display a sticker on their car windows indicating their apartment number.
The green Taurus’ read “804.”
“We were able to tell them (police) where he was” using the sticker, Taborsky said.
The pool area nearby also was evacuated as a precaution, as well as residents in Buildings 6 and 7, according to Casanova Cruz, who lives in Apartment 802, near the one involved in the standoff.
Cruz said authorities knocked on his door and “told me to get out” around 1:35 p.m. He left the complex shortly before 6 p.m. to escape the heat after standing outside for more than four hours.
“There’s a lot of residents who can’t get in” their homes because, Cruz said, authorities told them “gunfire could happen.”
The suspect warned that if there was any police activity, he would shoot at law enforcement officers, the dispatch supervisor said Wednesday.
Authorities had closed off access to the apartment complex as a precaution. But by 8:15 p.m. as several cars congregated in a small parking lot near the complex entrance, police told residents who live in Buildings 1-5 and 9-12 they could go home. They were warned to stay inside.
The rest continued to await the standoff’s end.
Tenbrook said Wednesday midafternoon that residents weren’t being forced to leave but that those who did wouldn’t be allowed back in.
“I’m trying to get to my babies,” said Amanda Kalingenberg, a frustrated resident who, like many, was told she couldn’t go home. “They’re in there and I’m freaking out.”
Contributing: Rick Plumlee of The Eagle