Crime & Courts

Deputy Kunze ‘found strength to protect incoming deputies from this evil,’ partner says

Candlelight vigil for Deputy Robert Kunze

About 500 people gathered at a candlelight vigil at the Law Enforcement Memorial in Wichita on Tuesday evening to honor Sedgwick County sheriff's Deputy Robert Kunze, who was shot and killed in the line of duty on Sunday.
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About 500 people gathered at a candlelight vigil at the Law Enforcement Memorial in Wichita on Tuesday evening to honor Sedgwick County sheriff's Deputy Robert Kunze, who was shot and killed in the line of duty on Sunday.

When Deputy Tony Farias arrived at the scene of a suspicious character call, he had no idea his partner had been shot.

Farias was one of the sheriff’s deputies dispatched to western Sedgwick County on Sunday afternoon. The other deputy, Robert Kunze, was shot about six minutes after he arrived at the scene. Kunze died about five minutes before his watch was scheduled to end.

“Deputy Kunze and I were dispatched to your “everyday call” (a suspicious character),” Farias said Wednesday in a public Facebook post. “Prior to the call, we messaged each other getting our locations coordinated so we could arrive at the same time.

“The location we were given had changed and Deputy Kunze just happened to roll up on it. He notified everyone of the location change upon arrival. Due to me just arriving at the original location I headed towards my partner. HE KNEW I WAS CLOSE.”

Deputies were originally dispatched to the area of 295th Street West and 53rd Street North at around 1:18 p.m. Sunday. But the location changed to about 4 miles south, at 295th Street West and 21st Street North, where Kunze arrived at around 1:42 p.m.

Kunze “activated the emergency button on his portable radio” at around 1:48 p.m. and notified emergency dispatch that he had been shot, Sheriff Jeff Easter previously said. A second deputy arrived at the scene about a minute later, where he found Kunze and the suspected shooter lying in the ditch area.

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Deputy Robert K. Kunze III Courtesy Photo Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office

“I would arrived on scene shortly after having no idea of the events that just occurred,” Farias said. “Deputy Kunze had suffered a wound that doctors said no human would be able to function after receiving. Deputy Kunze was no regular human.

“After receiving this wound Deputy Kunze did the impossible and demolished the evil that thought had him beat. He made the hardest decision anyone can make in seconds.”

Kunze had been shot once in his upper torso above his ballistic vest, Easter has said. The suspect was shot in his upper torso and waist.

The suspect — convicted felon Robert C. Greeson — was pronounced dead at the scene. Paramedics took Kunze to a hospital, where he was also pronounced dead at around 2:55 p.m. Kunze worked on first watch, which was scheduled to end at 3 p.m.

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Robert C. Greeson. Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office

There were two witnesses to the shooting, and Easter told The Eagle that he believes

Kunze in his dying moments

may have saved their lives.

“Without a doubt in my mind, he (Kunze) prevented loss of other life because of the two witnesses standing there” when the shots rang out, Easter said. “They’re witnesses to him (the suspect) murdering a sheriff’s deputy. That puts them in harm.”

Farias, who said he that day will haunt him for the rest of his life, said Kunze may have saved more lives.

“I believe Deputy Kunze found strength to protect incoming Deputies (ME) from this evil and knew he had to eliminate it. ASAP!” Farias said in his post. “Nothing was going to stop him from doing so. Certainly not some fatal wound. I owe my life to this hero who made the ultimate sacrifice to bring justice to evil and to protect me.”

Drone footage of the crime scene where Sedgwick County sheriff's Deputy Robert Kunze was fatally shot near North 295th Street West and West 21st Street.

Kunze, 41, leaves behind a wife and daughter.

He joined the sheriff’s office in 2006 after six years with the Shawnee County Sheriff’s Office. He worked on first watch and was the leader of the critical accident team. Kunze was also trained as a field training deputy and was a certified radar and LIDAR instructor.

At a candlelight vigil Tuesday evening at the Law Enforcement Memorial in Wichita, Deputy Bill Felix said police officers and sheriff’s deputies can’t be angry after one of their own was killed in the line of duty. Instead, officers must have empathy, sympathy and understanding.

“This is the sixth officer that I’ve lost in my career, and I’ve run through many different emotions,” Felix said. “The first one being anger, many of them being, ‘Well the next bad guy I get my hands on is going to learn a lesson for this.’”

“You can’t be bitter,” he continued. “You can’t go home with problems, you can’t get angry at people, or your career will be very short.”

Funeral services for Deputy Robert K. Kunze III will be at 10 a.m. Friday at Central Community Church, 6100 W. Maple. Following the service, a procession will make its way to Resthaven Gardens of Memory, 11800 W. Kellogg. Viewing will be Wednesday and Thursday from 5-8 p.m. at Resthaven Mortuary.

Maple Street from Arapaho to 119th Street West will be shut down to traffic from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Friday for the funeral procession, the sheriff’s office said. The public is welcome to line the streets, wear blue and bring signs of support.

Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer ordered flags to be flown at half-staff statewide from sunrise to sunset on Friday in honor of Kunze’s funeral.

The sheriff’s office is accepting cards and messages of condolences for Kunze’s family. They may be sent to the Sheriff’s Office at 141 W. Elm, Wichita, KS 67203. Donations may be made to the family through the Honore Adversis Foundation.

The Eagle has reached out to Farias for additional comments, and this story will be updated if he would like to talk.

“Thank you, Deputy Robert Kunze for not only the actions you took that day, but the actions you took everyday in how you conducted yourself,” Farias said. “You are the definition of a Hero, I love you and I owe my life to you.”

Radio traffic on Sunday, September 16, 2018, when Sedgwick County Deputy Robert Kunze III was shot and killed.

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