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Hundreds gather at cook-off to help injured Wichita officer

Rick Farrier enjoys a bowl of chili during a fundraiser in Old Town Square on Saturday. The Wichita Wagonmasters organized a chili feed to raise money for Wichita police Officer Brian Arterburn, who was seriously injured in the line of duty a couple of weeks ago.
Rick Farrier enjoys a bowl of chili during a fundraiser in Old Town Square on Saturday. The Wichita Wagonmasters organized a chili feed to raise money for Wichita police Officer Brian Arterburn, who was seriously injured in the line of duty a couple of weeks ago. The Wichita Eagle

The Wichita Wagonmasters held a chili cook off in Old Town Square Saturday, Feb. 25, 2017, to raise money for injured Wichita Police Officer Brian Arterburn.

Brian Arterburn has been known for reaching into his wallet to feed hungry people he finds on his beat, fellow police officers say.

Police and civilians in Wichita reached into their wallets on Saturday to help him. They gathered at a chili cook-off in Old Town that drew hundreds of visitors on a cold, sunny winter day.

He’s going to need the help, fellow officers say. Arterburn remains in critical condition from injuries including to his brain. A man driving a stolen SUV ran over him on Feb. 7; he began breathing on his own only in the past three days.

He’s not out of the woods yet.

Officer Chris Robinson

“He’s not out of the woods yet,” said Officer Chris Robinson, who has known Arterburn for years. “He was run over by a criminal, he’s still in critical condition, and he’s going to need money to get him through rehab when the time comes.”

Robinson and Alex Recio – like Arterburn, street patrol officers assigned to the Patrol South bureau – said Arterburn helps people he meets on the beat.

“He always does it under the radar, doesn’t broadcast what he’s done,” Robinson said. But he and Recio have seen him feed people at night on South Broadway, when he found them hungry. He’d walk into a QuikTrip and buy food, or hand them cash out of his wallet to get them through another day.

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They like hanging around with him, they said.

“A joker,” Robinson said.

“A nice guy who’s really into paintball,” Recio said. “My son is into that, too, so Brian gives him advice on barrels and kits.”

We all wish Brian a good long life.

Bryan Frye, Wichita City Council

The cook-off idea came from Lori Hahn, a Patrol West officer who approached Bryan Frye, a Wichita City Council member and a member of Wichita Wagonmasters, which sponsored the Saturday cook-off.

Wagonmasters has done events to benefit police before, Hahn said. “Bryan just said, ‘count us in,’ right away,” Hahn said.

“In two years on the City Council, I never had a really bad day until the day Brian got hurt,” Frye said. “We’re all about the good life in Wagonmasters, and we all wish Brian a long, good life.”

Wagonmasters had help. They sold bowls of chili and fixings for $10 apiece, but Wagonmasters didn’t have to buy any of the food. So Saturday’s chili sale is pure profit, all of which will go to Arterburn, said Brad Fitts, the captain of Wagonmasters.

Cargill donated 800 pounds of ground beef, and Carlos O’Kelly’s cut up all the onions and donated chili toppings, he said. People sold extras, everything from chocolate brownies to raffled guns to T-shirts that said #BlueForBrian.

Arterburn, a 25-year veteran of the police department, was run over at Topeka and Kinkaid.

Justin Terrazas, 31, is charged with aggravated battery against a law enforcement officer, and other crimes.

Prosecutors charged the man suspected of running over Wichita police Officer Brian Arterburn during a pursuit with aggravated battery of a law enforcement officer. Justin F. Terrazas, 31, made his first appearance in Sedgwick County District Court

Fundraising for Arterburn will continue after Saturday, Fitts said.

They cooked 400 gallons of chili on Saturday.

It was all selling well, under blue balloons tethered high above the cook-off in Old Town.

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