Politics & Government

Tax office gunman fired until his gun wouldn’t shoot, witness says

Suspect asked for shooting victim by name

The Wichita Police Department offers an update into the shooting of a state employee on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017. (Nichole Manna/The Wichita Eagle)
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The Wichita Police Department offers an update into the shooting of a state employee on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017. (Nichole Manna/The Wichita Eagle)

A witness to Tuesday’s shooting at the Wichita tax office said the gunman kept firing until his gun wouldn’t shoot anymore.

The witness estimated that the man fired eight to 10 shots. Some of the bullets hit Kansas Department of Revenue employee Cortney Holloway, while misses whizzed into the back office where the other employees huddled under their desks.

“The only thing that stopped this guy was he ran out of bullets,” said the witness, an employee at the Kansas Department of Revenue office at 21st and Amidon. “He was shaking his gun, trying to get it to shoot more, but it was empty.”

The witness spoke on condition of anonymity because of the traumatic nature of the incident and concern that being publicly identified could affect their job.

The witness was a few yards away when the gunman shot Holloway, after a discussion about seizure of the man’s assets to pay a tax debt.

Holloway had returned to the office from speaking with the man about his debts about an hour before, the witness said.

The man showed up at the office and asked for Holloway, the witness said.

As the two men spoke at the front counter, “he (the client) just started getting agitated. Then there was silence. Then he started shooting.”

The other employees of the office dove under their desks when the shooting started.

Holloway was between them and the gunman. Shots that missed him slammed into the walls of the employees’ cubicles.

“They were hitting everywhere behind Cortney,” the employee said.

Approximately a dozen people were in the office at the time and they stayed low until they heard the gunman leave.

“It got quiet again. All you heard was Cortney,” who had been hit and was on the ground, moaning in pain, the witness said.

Police have arrested excavation contractor Ricky Todd Wirths, 51, of Wichita, on suspicion of committing the shooting.

Wirths was facing seizure of his assets over nearly $400,000 in outstanding tax warrants, according to the Department of Revenue.

Holloway, who was taken to a hospital in critical condition, had improved to fair condition by Thursday afternoon.

Dion Lefler: 316-268-6527, @DionKansas

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