Crime & Courts

Wichita police still asking witnesses to come forward in deadly shooting

One of the security cameras in the Old Town area offers police a view on several locations in the central core of Old Town.
One of the security cameras in the Old Town area offers police a view on several locations in the central core of Old Town. The Wichita Eagle

It’s been more than three days since a gunman shot into an Old Town crowd over a dispute, and although investigators have received some tips, there are likely plenty of people with possibly crucial evidence who have yet to come forward, a police official said Wednesday.

Investigators know that some people were taking cellphone photos of the fight – possibly before, during and after the confrontation – when the shots were fired, said Wichita police Capt. Brent Allred.

“We know that there’s people out there that saw the shooting, and we need to talk to those people,” Allred said, repeating a plea from police for help from the public.

“You have some very innocent people who got shot,” Allred said.

Kolby Hopkins, 25, a graduate of North High School and Fort Scott Community College, suffered a fatal head wound. Six others were wounded but are expected to recover.

Although Allred said the shooting is “gang-involved” – some of the wounded were gang members – Hopkins’ family and police have said he was not a gang member.

Investigators aren’t sure whether the gunman was on foot or in a vehicle, but police know the fight and ensuing gunfire occurred outside, in or around the street in the 100 block of North Mead, just north of Douglas, Allred said. There is a large parking lot on the west side of that block in part of the Old Town entertainment area.

Police have received some cooperation from witnesses and a few tips through Crime Stoppers, and Allred said he hopes that if potential witnesses realize that others are helping, it will encourage them to come forward. People shouldn’t assume they have no information that could help, he said.

Regarding any cellphone photos or footage, he said, people should bring it to police, call police, or investigators can meet with witnesses and make copies – “whatever we need to do to get this evidence,” Allred said.

Why aren’t more people helping?

“I think some people fear retaliation. I think some people don’t want to get involved,” he said, speculating that many may think that because they weren’t friends of the victims, they don’t want to help. That shouldn’t matter, Allred said.

Another factor, he said, is that some people may not want to be seen as a snitch.

The lack of information is prolonging the investigation, which delays an arrest and risks the possibility of further violence, including retaliation, he said.

Allred asked that anyone with information about the shooting call homicide detectives at 316-268-4181, leave anonymous tips with CrimeStoppers at 316-267-2111 or call 911.

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