UPDATE: Sedgwick County Sheriff's Deputy Killed During Scuffle With Suspect
Updated on Monday, Sept. 17, at 1:40 p.m:
A Sedgwick County Sheriff’s deputy was killed Sunday afternoon while trying to subdue a suspect, the Sheriff’s Office said.
Sheriff Jeff Easter said Deputy Robert Kunze III, a deputy since 2006, was killed after responding to a suspicious character call. The suspect, who has been identified as Robert Greeson, also was killed, Easter said.
“Robert [Kunze III] was an exceptional deputy and was loved by everyone who knew him,” Easter said.
“We’ll miss his smile, his contagious laugh and his ability to engage anyone and everyone in conversation.
“We ask that you pray for him and his family.”
Easter said Kunze, 41, left behind a wife and a child.
Easter, speaking at a media briefing Sunday night at the Sedgwick County Jail, gave this account of Sunday’s events:
Kunze was responding to a call at 1:18 p.m. of a suspicious character in a black pickup. About 25 minutes later, he found Greeson and truck pulled off of 21st Street near West 295th Street North. That’s in a rural part of Sedgwick County north of Garden Plain.
Two witnesses who had made the initial call and then followed the black truck also were there.
As Kunze patted Greeson down, he discovered a handgun. He placed the handgun aside and then tried to handcuff Greeson.
A scuffle ensued and Kunze was shot once in the torso, above his protective vest. Greeson was shot twice. Kunze radioed in at 1:49 p.m. that he had been shot.
A second deputy arriving found the two men lying near each other.
Greeson died at the scene. Kunze was pronounced dead about an hour later at Via Christi St. Francis.
According to the Sedgwick County Sheriff's office, Greeson might have been involved in two stolen car cases earlier in the day and the theft of a handgun from a car in southwest Wichita on Sunday morning. The stolen weapon is the same caliber weapon found at the shooting scene.
Easter said roads in the area will remain closed overnight as authorities continue to investigate. He said stress teams are being activated to counsel deputies and other first responders.
“We will be there as a family for everyone involved in this case,” said Easter, whose brother, Kevin, was killed in the line of duty in 1996.
Gov. Jeff Colyer has ordered flags in Sedgwick County to be flown at half-staff until sundown on Tuesday in honor of Deputy Kunze.
In addition, as is customary, Colyer will be ordering flags to be flown half-staff statewide from sun up to sun down on the day of Deputy Kunze’s funeral. Arrangments are still being worked out, and details will be announced at a future time.
The last Sedgwick County Sheriff’s deputy killed was Brian Etheridge. He was ambushed while reporting to a larceny call on South Rock Road in September 2009. The man suspected of shooting Etheridge was killed in a shootout with law enforcement officers.
KMUW news reporter Deborah Shaar contributed to this report.