Crime & Courts

Updated: Ex-convict arrested on suspicion of murder in meth-related motel shooting

If you witness a crime, here’s what to do

Witnessing a crime and reporting it can be just as frightening as being the victim of a crime. Here’s what you should do if you witness illegal activity. (Nicole L. Cvetnic / McClatchy)
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Witnessing a crime and reporting it can be just as frightening as being the victim of a crime. Here’s what you should do if you witness illegal activity. (Nicole L. Cvetnic / McClatchy)

A man has been arrested in connection to a shooting death outside a south Wichita motel that was apparently the result of a fight over meth.

The shooting happened around 6:30 p.m. Sunday night in the parking lot behind the Citi Host Motel, 4449 S. Broadway, which is between MacArthur and 47th Street South. Wichita police on Tuesday said the man killed is Justin Gaston, 34.

Christopher Daniel Kemmerly, 31, was arrested in the 700 block of North Westridge on Monday night and booked into jail on suspicion of first-degree murder at around 10:30 p.m., Sedgwick County Jail records show. He was also arrested on suspicion of domestic violence.

Wichita police Capt. Brent Allred said Tuesday that Kemmerly, Gaston and a 34-year-old woman were all in a car that pulled into the motel parking lot on Sunday evening. A drug-related argument broke out inside of the vehicle, he said.

“We know that these three individuals have known each other and have been involved in drug deals or drug talks in the past,” Allred said. Officer Paul Cruz said methamphetamine is the drug at the center of Sunday’s fight.

Kemmerly shot Gaston once as Gaston was getting out of the vehicle. A 26-year-old found Gaston lying in the parking lot and tried to help him until paramedics arrived. Emergency Medical Services workers pronounced him dead at 7:02 p.m.

His death is the city’s third homicide of the year.

Allred said the vehicle Kemmerly, Gaston and the woman were in had been reported stolen on Feb. 11. About an hour and a half after Gaston’s shooting, police found it “engulfed in flames” on West Street between 55th and 63rd.

Talking to the vehicle’s owner led to Kemmerly’s arrest, Allred said.

Until recently, Kemmerly had been under state supervision for multiple crimes committed in Butler County, including aggravated arson, aggravated intimidation of a witness or victim, criminal use of explosives, criminal damage to property and a weapons violation, according to Kansas Department of Corrections records.

His finished serving his sentence in November.

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Chance Swaim won the Betty Gage Holland Award in 2018 for distinguished service to honor and protect the integrity of public dialogue on America’s college campuses. He has been a news reporter for The Wichita Eagle since 2018. You can contact him at 316-269-6752 and cswaim@wichitaeagle.com.

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