Crime & Courts

Suspect asked for tax agent by name before shooting, police say

Police give details about shooting at Kansas Department of Revenue

Police investigate a shooting at the Kansas Department of Revenue at 1800 N. Amidon Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017. (Video by Fernando Salazar)
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Police investigate a shooting at the Kansas Department of Revenue at 1800 N. Amidon Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017. (Video by Fernando Salazar)

Kansas Department of Revenue tax agent Cortney Holloway, who was shot multiple times Tuesday afternoon, remains in serious condition Wednesday morning.

The shooting took place at around 2:40 p.m. on Tuesday inside the taxation side of the state office building at 21st and Amidon, Wichita police Officer Charley Davidson said. Holloway, 35, was involved in an investigation into the suspect, Davidson said. The investigation involved Department of Revenue and deputies from the Sedgwick County sheriff’s Civil Section going to a residence near 35th Street North and Arkansas, he said.

Davidson confirmed Wednesday that 51-year-old Ricky Todd Wirths of Wichita was booked into jail shortly after 8 p.m. Tuesday on suspicion of attempted first-degree murder. He is being held on $150,000 bond. Davidson said the case will be presented to the District Attorney’s Office Thursday for formal charges.

At around 2:30 p.m., Davidson said Wirths walked into the Department of Revenue taxation office and asked for Holloway. Holloway started talking to Wirths in the front of the business, then Wirths pulled out a handgun and fired multiple times, Davidson said Wednesday. Davidson didn’t say how many times Wirths fired the handgun, or where on his body Holloway was hit. However, according to emergency radio traffic, Holloway had been hit in his chest, leg and finger.

He was able to retreat to the back of the building, and Wirths left in a pickup truck. Officers immediately went to his home, where the Department of Revenue had been earlier, and found Wirths nearby, Davidson said.

Robert Choromanski, executive director of the Kansas Organization of State Employees, said he talked to workers who were in the office at the time of the shooting, who described the scene to him.

“There were bullet holes in the cubicle walls,” he said.

It’s unknown how many people were inside during the shooting.

Two tax warrants issued by the Kansas Department of Revenue on June 1 indicates Wirths owes nearly $400,000 in unpaid taxes. One tax warrant amounts to $196,455.36 in unpaid sales tax. The other tax warrant amounts to $198,250.02 for unpaid consumers compensating use tax.

Dave Hiegel, who has known Wirth for more than two decades, said Wirths did dirt work with his father, installed windows for a few years and most recently had done parking lot and pavement sealing.

The state will offer counseling to employees in the office.

Holloway is a father and coach with League 42 in Wichita, according to their Facebook page.

“This family has been with League 42 from the outset and we love them,” the group said. “Cortney has been an inspiration to the players he has coached and to the coaches he has assisted.”

The Kansas Organization of State Employees said Holloway worked in the compliance and enforcement division of the Kansas Department of Revenue.

This is the second violent incident that has happened at a Wichita business in the past week. Achutha Reddy, of Holistic Psychiatric Services, was fatally stabbed last Wednesday. Police arrested a client of his, Urmar Dutt, the same night. He is charged with first-degree murder.

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, local, county and federal government employees experienced 18 nonfatal violent victimizations in the workplace per 1,000 employees between 1994 and 2011. It’s the latest report that has been released.

About 56 percent of those injuries occurred to law enforcement and security personnel. However, excluding law enforcement, government employees reported 8.7 violent incidents per 1,000 employees.

In 2011, 1 in 5 victims of workplace homicide was a government employee. During that year, the private sector experienced 367 workplace homicides, compared to 90 for government employees, the bureau said.

Davidson said businesses who want to talk to officers about office security can contact one of the police substations to ask for their community policing officer.

The Twin Lakes tax office where the shooting took place will be closed the rest of the week. The driver’s license office adjacent to it will be closed Wednesday, but will reopen Thursday.

Contributing: Stan Finger, Amy Renee Leiker, Tim Potter, Dion Lefler of The Eagle

Nichole Manna: 316-269-6752, @NicholeManna

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