Crime & Courts

Man accused of shooting homeless people thought they were cartel, Wichita police say

Police said Monday that a man jailed in the shooting of two homeless people walking along a downtown Wichita street over the weekend was having “a mental health crisis” possibly spurred by drug use — and he thought he was gunning down cartel associates.

But investigators have turned up nothing that indicates any cartel was after 45-year-old Dexter L. Solomon, Capt. Brent Allred said.

“Methamphetamines may have had a part to play in this,” Allred said, referring to the thoughts and behavior that apparently prompted Solomon to fire at a 50-year-old man and a 33-year-old woman on Broadway near Lewis at about 8 a.m. Sunday.

“But that’s still something that we’re still looking into.”

Solomon is being held in the Sedgwick County Jail on suspicion of two counts of attempted first-degree murder and one count of being a felon in possession of a gun. His bond is $200,000. He had not been formally charged with any crime as of Monday morning.

Solomon allegedly shot the woman once in the back and the man five times in the legs and arms, Allred said. The man was treated by hospital staff for gunshot wounds and released.

The woman, however, remained hospitalized Monday “in very, very critical condition,” he said.

Allred said police were aware that Solomon was having issues as early as Saturday. Solomon’s daughter, who is a juvenile and lives out of town, called authorities in Wichita asking that they find him on Saturday after she couldn’t reach him by phone and became concerned for his welfare, he said.

Police issued an “attempt to locate” for Solomon that night. But they didn’t immediately find him, Allred said.

Allred said Solomon called his daughter at 6 a.m. Sunday. About two hours later, he allegedly pulled a handgun on and fired at the homeless man and homeless woman while they were walking on the west side of Broadway on the sidewalk near Lewis Street.

A bicyclist called 911 after he spotted the pair lying on the sidewalk with bullet wounds.

Solomon also started phoning people around that time, Allred said.

“While officers were investigating the incident, Mr. Solomon began calling 911, family and local media stations, indicating his involvement in the shooting and that the victims were working for what he believed was the cartel,” Allred said.

That included a call at 8:11 a.m. to his daughter who called police the night before.

Allred said the cartel story plus comments Solomon made to his daughter and 911 dispatch are among reasons police think he “could be having a mental health crisis.”

At 9:20 a.m., police tracked down Solomon and drew him out of hiding with the help of his daughter. Allred said at that time the girl put police and her father on a three-way call that helped authorities learn his whereabouts.

Police arrested Solomon about a half mile away from the shooting scene, in the 900 block of South Market. They found a handgun in a backyard in the area. Allred said police aren’t sure where Solomon, a convicted felon, got the weapon. It hadn’t been reported as stolen as of Monday, he said.

Allred said it’s unclear whether Solomon knew the people who were shot or whether he had come into contact with them at any locations around town that offer services to Wichita’s homeless. Solomon is also thought to be homeless, police said.

He previously served time in a Kansas prison for a 2010 attempted aggravated robbery in Sedgwick County, Kansas Department of Corrections records show.

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Amy Renee Leiker has been reporting for The Wichita Eagle since 2010. She covers crime, courts and breaking news and updates the newspaper’s online databases. You can reach her at 316-268-6644. She’s an avid reader and mom of three in her non-work time.