Crime & Courts

Long standoff ends with suspect dead; unknown if self-inflicted shot

Jared Lee Woosypiti
Jared Lee Woosypiti

The suspect involved in a standoff with police at a southside Wichita apartment complex died at about 10:30 p.m. Thursday, ending the ordeal that began 32 hours earlier.

Wichita police Capt. Max Tenbrook confirmed about 11:30 p.m. that emergency responders pronounced the man dead an hour earlier at the Southlake Village, 4141 S. Seneca. Whether he died from police fire or a self-inflicted injury was unknown, Tenbrook said.

Tenbrook said it will take several days for authorities to finish investigating the scene that became a focus of dozens of officers after the suspect fled there shortly after he allegedly ran from a shooting at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday at a Kmart.

“We tried everything we could,” Tenbrook said when asked whether police wanted the standoff to end peacefully. “ Our intent is to do it in safe manner. That’s one reason it (the end) took so long.”

During communications with police, Tenbrook said, the man never said he was going to come out. There were several instances of the man and police exchanging gunfire before the fatal battle took place.

About 11 p.m., cries of “He’s dead, he’s dead” were heard coming from a small group standing in one of two parking lots near the entrance of the complex where media and others had gathered to await the standoff’s end. Men and women there exchanged hugs, shed tears and wailed as police watched closely.

Tenbrook said the standoff culminated with an exchange of gunfire between police and the suspect about 10:30 p.m. The man was pronounced dead at 10:32 p.m. His body was still at the scene at midnight, Tenbrook said.

Tenbrook also said he did not know how many or what type of guns the man discharged during the two-day ordeal.

“He engaged officers,” Tenbrook said of the final battle. “He attacked them, and they returned fire.”

The apartment building where the man was barricaded has sustained damage but Tenbrook said he could not speak to its extent. At least two apartment buildings will be considered part of the crime scene, Tenbrook said.

“It will be a while until we can leave the scene and turn that back to property owners,” he said. “We appreciate their patience.”

By 12:30 a.m. Friday, quiet had fallen over the complex’s entrance, where just a few hours before a crowd of curious residents, news media and law enforcement awaited the standoff’s end. Once-packed parking lots were mostly bare by midnight. A parade of law enforcement vehicles, paramedics and ambulances pulled out onto Seneca and left the apartments shortly thereafter.

The entrance to Southlake Village remains guarded by a police vehicle. Those coming into the complex will check in with police, Wichita police spokesman Lt. Doug Nolte. Residents in all but two buildings are free to return home, he said; those in 7 and 8 — considered part of the crime scene — will still be displaced while investigation continues during the coming days.

Shortly before 6 p.m., police also had exchanged gunfire with the suspect.

“He had fired shots. Officers have returned fire,” Tenbrook said earlier in the evening. “He has the ability to communicate with us at this moment.”

“At this point we’re still in a containment mode. We don’t know if he is injured. We do have some contact with him. Occasionally he will contact us.”

The extent of the gunfire wasn’t known. Nolte, the police spokesman, said there “was a flurry of shots fired.”

“At this point, the situation is still ongoing,” said Nolte shortly before 8 p.m.

Police proceeded cautiously in approaching the man, who also was thought to be wanted as a suspect in the stabbing of a woman last week in Derby.

Before Thursday evening’s gunfire, the suspect had fired twice at police since holing up in the apartment.

“He’s shown some resistance – not only in shooting yesterday at the original scene, but he’s done that again this morning,” Nolte said earlier in the afternoon. “So there’s some concern there for officer safety. Time is on our side.”

Nolte said police twice had contact with the man – once at 6 a.m. and again sometime between midmorning and late Thursday afternoon.

The man had made some demands, although police declined to specify what those were. They had also declined to meet those demands, Police Chief Norman Williams said.

“We chose not to acknowledge any demands because he’s committed several crimes here – shooting at innocent people and because of the warrant for the attempted homicide,” he said Thursday. “We’re not going to negotiate with him from the standpoint of meeting his demands.”

Law enforcement sources told The Eagle on Wednesday the suspect was the same man who was being sought for attempted murder in the stabbing of a woman on July 4 in Derby during a domestic dispute. 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.

Kansas Department of Corrections records show Woosypiti served time in prison on a 2007 drug charge. He was discharged in November 2011, according to the records.

Woosypiti also was arrested in December 2012 on suspicion of aggravated battery and aggravated kidnapping after incident at the same Derby address where last week’s stabbing occurred.

Police declined Thursday to officially link Woosypiti to the standoff and Kmart shooting.

The Red Cross made arrangements to house Southlake displaced residents Wednesday and Thursday nights. A shelter has been set up at Ruth Clark Elementary, 1900 W. 55th St. S.

Police cut electricity off to the apartment. They said they aren’t sure if the apartment where the man was holed up belonged to him. They think he had kicked in a wall, so he had access to another apartment.

Radio traffic indicated early Thursday that the man had upturned a box spring near a bathroom where he was reportedly hiding, piled several pieces of furniture in front of a sliding glass door and scattered debris around the apartment overnight. Earlier in the standoff he refused repeated attempts by law enforcement to negotiate but was seen peeking out through windows, Tenbrook said.

The string of events began around 1:30 p.m. Wednesday when a man entered the Kmart at 47th and South Broadway in an apparent robbery attempt of the store’s pharmacy. Some callers initially told 911 they thought it was fireworks, but others said they were gun shots.

It was later determined that at some point the man pulled out a gun, fired shots indoors and fled, police said.

Shoppers at Kmart saw the man leaving in a green Ford Taurus. Police quickly tracked the car to Southlake Village by using a partial license plate and descriptions of the suspect and car provided by witnesses. A Wichita SWAT team was called to the complex as the standoff ensued.

Standoffs normally don’t last so long, said Michael Birzer, a criminal justice professor at Wichita State University who spent nearly 20 years with the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office.

“But every situation is different,” Birzer said Thursday morning.

Contributing: Matt Riedl of The Eagle

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