Crime & Courts

Stray bullet fired during argument killed teen, Wichita police say

A Wichita police officer stands outside the entrance of a venue where a 17-year-old teenager died in a shooting early Saturday morning. (May 9, 2015)
A Wichita police officer stands outside the entrance of a venue where a 17-year-old teenager died in a shooting early Saturday morning. (May 9, 2015) The Wichita Eagle

Leon McClennon had no criminal history and he wasn’t even involved in the argument that escalated into gunfire early Saturday morning, according to Wichita police.

He was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, Lt. Jason Stephens said Monday.

McClennon, 17, was shot once in the head and died shortly before 3 a.m. Saturday in the basement of Parrot-fa-Nalia, 1719 S. Hillside, Stephens said.

About 20 people were at a private birthday party in Parrot’s Party Place, a room rented out for gatherings, when the shooting occurred. A confrontation erupted involving two men, Stephens said, and the argument intensified until one of them pulled out a gun and fired shots.

“Right now, we’re looking into details of the argument,” Stephens said.

A “person of interest” has been identified, he said, and police may release his name later on Monday. While this person is a documented gang member, Stephens said, no information gathered thus far in the investigation indicates the dispute was gang-related.

McClennon was a student at West High, and the USD 259 crisis team met with students at the school on Monday, district spokeswoman Susan Arensman said.

Stephens said he was the youngest person at the party and wasn’t related to either person involved in the argument. There was a wide range of ages at the party, Stephens said, including people in their 40s.

While police have interviewed numerous people, he said, they want to hear from anyone else who may have information related to the case.

McClennon is the ninth homicide victim of 2015 in Wichita, Stephens said.

In the past 10 years, the address where the shooting occurred has been the location for more than 80 different incidents in which police were called, records show. Among them are a drive-by shooting in 2012, three cases of aggravated battery, two cases of criminal discharge of a firearm and four cases of destruction of property.

When he was a street supervisor, Lt. James Espinoza said, “we had a lot of calls at that location.”

In years past, he said, police officials would take note of when private parties were occurring in the basement and have an officer at the scene to deter conflict.

“I’m sure it’s very concerning to those people” who live next to the store, Espinoza said, because gunfire has occurred “numerous” times over the years.

While 2007 and 2011 saw more than a dozen incidents at that address, Espinoza said things had quieted down there in recent years.

Reach Stan Finger at 316-268-6437 or sfinger@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @StanFinger.

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