Crime & Courts

Man jailed in tax agent shooting had temper, friend and court document say

Suspect asked for shooting victim by name

The Wichita Police Department offers an update into the shooting of a state employee on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017. (Nichole Manna/The Wichita Eagle)
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The Wichita Police Department offers an update into the shooting of a state employee on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017. (Nichole Manna/The Wichita Eagle)

The man jailed in Tuesday’s shooting of a state tax agent was told he had to complete an anger management class after he shoved one of his children during a family trip to Arkansas in 2012 and told them he wanted to harm their mother, according to a court document filed in his divorce case.

The records described a June 23, 2012, incident where Ricky Todd Wirths reportedly became upset with his then 16-year-old daughter after she read some of his text messages, pushed her and then chased her into a bathroom, where she locked herself to escape the assault. He then started yelling at his then 21-year-old daughter before leaving “to cool off,” the document says.

The document describes Wirths as having “an explosive temper.” It also says that, during the trip to Arkansas, Wirths told his children “that he wanted to slit their mother’s throat and drink her blood.”

The events led a judge to order suspension of Wirths’ parenting time with the 16-year-old until he completed an anger management class. It wasn’t clear from court records whether he ever did that.

Just more than five years later, Wirths is being held on suspicion of attempted first-degree murder after 35-year-old tax agent Cortney Holloway was shot multiple times inside the taxation portion of the Department of Revenue building in Twin Lakes Shopping Center in Wichita.

Wirths, 51, and his company, Rick Wirths Construction, owed nearly $400,000 in unpaid sales and consumers compensating use taxes and had been under investigation, state officials said Wednesday.

Wirths went to the building, at 21st and Amidon, after authorities started seizing his assets around noon Tuesday.

He asked for Holloway by name before drawing a gun and firing several shots at him around 2:40 p.m. Tuesday, police said. Officers arrested Wirths during a vehicle stop down the block from his home, in the 900 block of West 35th Street North, about 30 minutes later.

Dave Hiegel, a longtime friend of Wirths, on Wednesday said Wirths was “known to have a temper.” He never knew Wirths to carry a gun, though, he said.

“Rick was just another guy in the neighborhood that I’ve known for 20 years. He liked to have a good time. A typical guy, as far as I’m concerned,” said Hiegel, who lives near Wirths and was waiting for a child to get off the school bus when Wirths was handcuffed.

“I was surprised to hear that he had walked in (to the Department of Revenue building) with a gun in his hands.”

Hiegel described Wirths as “a happy guy,” a hard worker and “a good dad” who didn’t talk about his ongoing financial troubles.

“I don’t think he told anybody that he was having problems,” Hiegel said, adding that he saw no signs Wirths would turn violent.

“I just watched him drive by two or three times the other day. Hauling his little trailer, doing what he was doing, making money. No signs of him having a bad day or having bad thoughts.”

Attempts to reach Wirths’ family were unsuccessful Wednesday. Wirths remains in the Sedgwick County Jail in lieu of a $150,000 bond. He has not been formally charged with a crime.

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

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