Crime & Courts

Man with assault rifle was killed by police in shootout near the Legends in KCK

Update: Police on Wednesday identified the man killed in the shooting as Charles Pearson. The body of Pearson’s wife, Sylvia Ussery-Pearson, was found in Arkansas. That story is posted here.

A man allegedly armed with an assault rifle was killed in a shootout with Kansas City, Kansas, police officers Tuesday at State Avenue and Village West Parkway near the Legends shopping center, according to police.

The shooting capped off a startling series of events that began Tuesday morning when a man entered a nearby hotel and told employees that he had killed his wife, according to witnesses.

After police caught up with the man and killed him in what they described as an exchange of gunfire, investigators were working to identify the man and find out if it was true that he had committed a crime earlier, police said.

Police were first called about 9:45 a.m. to the Country Inn Suites near the Legends, according to Officer Jonathon Westbrook, a Kansas City, Kansas, Police Department spokesman.

Police were told a heavily armed person had come into the hotel and told the manager he had committed a crime.

The Kansas City, Kansas, Police Department, the Kansas Highway Patrol and the Wyandotte County Sheriff’s Office dispatched multiple units to the area.

The hotel manager, Jacob Honeycutt, told The Star that a man came to the hotel Tuesday morning looking angry and distraught but unarmed.

The man told the employees at the front desk that he needed them to do something for him, Honeycutt said.

“He said, ‘I just murdered my wife, I’m heavily armed and very dangerous,’ and he said, ‘I’m going to the Legends you better call the police,’” Honeycutt said.

The man, he said, then ran back outside and drove out of the parking lot in a red Maserati.

Honeycutt said he followed the man to the door, took photos of the man’s car on its way out of the parking lot, and called 911.

Photo courtesy of Jacob Honeycutt

He said he watched the man run multiple stops signs and a red light while driving away.

The entire exchange, he said, lasted about three minutes. Honeycutt said he planned to turn over surveillance video to law enforcement.

Police encountered the man just south of the intersection of Village West Parkway and State Avenue, said Westbrook, the police spokesman.

He said the man was waiting for police to arrive.

“We were able to locate him so quickly because he was stationary,” Westbrook said. “Given the information that he was heavily armed and dangerous, our officers were very tactical in how we approached the subject.”

When officers made contact with the man, Westbrook said, the man raised an assault-style rifle, Westbrook said.

Officers tried to convince the man to put the gun down, Westbrook said.

“Even as he had the rifle, our officers were still trying to negotiate and speak with him,” Westbrook said.

Eventually the man fired several shots at the officers, Westbrook said, and the officers fired back.

It was unclear how many bullets the man fired at officers, or how many officers shot back.

No officers or bystanders were injured.

The man killed in the shooting was not from the area, Westbrook said.

Another agency is looking for the man’s wife, Westbrook said. He did not specify which agency.


How we did this story

On Tuesday, police announced that officers had been involved in a shooting near the Legends shopping center in Kansas City, Kansas. The Star sent reporters and photographers to the scene, where they interviewed police who said they killed a man in a shootout and a witness who said the man told hotel employees that he had killed his wife. The next day, police identified the man as Charles Pearson.

Other incidents

People were asked to avoid the area, and State Avenue was closed from Interstate 435 Westbound to 110th Street, according to the Kansas City, Kansas, Fire Department.

The Legends shopping center posted on Twitter Tuesday morning that it had secured the property to protect the safety of shoppers.

At 10:40 a.m. the shopping center announced that stores were once again operating as normal.

In a statement released by the Legends Tuesday afternoon, the company thanked KCK police and said access to the shopping center remained open via Parallel Parkway.

“After learning about the armed suspect in the Village West area, Legends Outlets took the proper measures to put the safety of our shoppers and employees first by securing the property with our onsite security team and staying in constant contact with the KCKPD,” the statement said.

“At no point was the suspect at Legends Outlets.”

The incident Tuesday was the second police shooting in Kansas City, Kansas, in less than a week.

On Friday afternoon police shot and killed Jose Mendez after he allegedly pointed a gun at officers following a car and foot chase.

Tuesday’s events also came after a string of incidents in which heavily armed individuals have walked into public spaces or have threatened to do so.

Last week, a man was charged with making a terrorist threat after he walked into a Springfield, Missouri, Walmart carrying a loaded rifle and handgun. His actions frightened many because of their similarities to the El Paso, Texas, mass shooting on Aug. 3.

Over the weekend Kansas City, Missouri, police were working with federal authorities to investigate “threats of violence” made against Kansas City-area Walmarts.

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Glenn E. Rice covers crime, courts and breaking news for The Kansas City Star, where he’s worked since 1988. Rice is a Kansas City native and a graduate of the University of Central Missouri.
Katie Bernard covers Kansas crime, cops and courts for the Kansas City Star. She joined the Star in May of 2019. Katie studied journalism and political science at the University of Kansas.