Crime & Courts

Couple argued before fatal Sunday shooting, police say

Crystal Rotramel
Crystal Rotramel Courtesy photo

An ongoing argument that had lasted at least a week boiled over Sunday when a woman shot her boyfriend in the neck while they were driving, Wichita police said.

Wichita police Lt. Jeff Gilmore said 40-year-old Richard J. Hamm Jr. was found dead in the passenger seat of a vehicle at Kellogg and Meridian shortly after 11:30 a.m. on Sunday. Someone who stopped by the vehicle to assist in what they thought was a traffic accident on the eastbound ramp to the highway found Hamm’s girlfriend, who “immediately advised them that she had just shot her boyfriend in the head,” he said. That person called 911.

Sgt. Joe Kennedy of the Wichita Police Department discusses a fatal shooting Sunday, Feb. 5, 2017, that appears to be the result of a domestic incident (Video by Bryan Horwath / The Wichita Eagle)

When officers arrived, they saw Hamm’s girlfriend sitting on the curb. Hamm was seated inside the car with a bullet wound on the left side of his neck, Gilmore said.

Paramedics pronounced him dead a minute before noon.

Hamm’s girlfriend was booked into Sedgwick County Jail on suspicion of second-degree murder. Arrest records identify her as 30-year-old Crystal K. Rotramel of Wichita. The gun used in the shooting belongs to her, Gilmore said.

Gilmore said the couple left their house in the 2700 block of West Crawford, near Pawnee and Meridian, on Sunday morning after continuing an ongoing argument and began driving. He didn’t know where they were headed.

He wouldn’t say what the fight was over but it culminated in Rotramel allegedly pulling a gun and firing at Hamm as they were pulling onto Kellogg from Meridian. They had been in a relationship for several months but police had not been called to address any issues at their home in the past, he said.

The fight has “been an ongoing thing for the last several days,” Gilmore said. At the time of the shooting, it was “very loud, very agitated in the vehicle.”

Rotramel is being held in Sedgwick County Jail in lieu of $100,000 bond, according to online booking records.

She had not been charged criminally as of Monday afternoon.

Amy Renee Leiker: 316-268-6644, @amyreneeleiker