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Update: Incident That Injured Three Wichita Police Officers Not An 'Ambush'

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Tex Texin, flickr Creative Commons
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flickr Creative Commons

Updated Monday at 2:57 p.m.

The Wichita Police Department says an incident that injured three police officers over the weekend was not a planned attack.

Police were entering a vacant house in the 1400 block of South St. Francis on Saturday when a modified shotgun went off, injuring three officers. They were responding to reports of a break-in. At the time, it was unclear whether the shotgun had been booby trapped.

Police Chief Gordon Ramsay said Monday that it appears the gun went off accidentally. He said the loaded, sawed-off shotgun was wedged in the side pouch of a recliner with a knife, bat and other items when an officer likely bumped the chair, causing the gun to fire.

"The shotgun that was in that pouch was modified and had no trigger guard ... making it very dangerous and easy for that trigger to be pulled," Ramsay said. "And at this point in the investigation we do not believe that this was a trap, ambush or type of attack aimed at police ofifcers or any intruders, for that matter."

He said an investigation is ongoing. A man and a woman who had been illegally squatting at the residence were arrested Sunday and face several charges each, including burglary, theft, discharge of a firearm, and criminal possession of a firearm.

A spokesman for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which is assisting the WPD with the investigation, says the couple may face additional federal firearms charges.

Original story:

Local and federal authorities continue to investigate a shooting that injured three Wichita police officers

Police said the officers were investigating a possible break-in at a vacant house about 4 p.m. Saturday. Police said a modified shotgun discharged when officers opened the door and entered the house.

Police Chief Gordon Ramsay said Saturday evening that it wasn’t immediately clear whether the house had been booby trapped before officers arrived.

Two of the officers remain hospitalized Sunday, one with minor injuries and the other with serious but non-life threatening injuries, police said. A third officer was treated and released.

Ramsay said on his Twitter account Saturday night that the injured officers’ “spirits are good and appreciate the support they are receiving. We are praying for a speedy recovery.”

The Wichita Police Department/Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office SWAT team and the WPD bomb squad surrounded the house in the 1400 block of South St. Francis after the shooting. They were there for several hours, along with police negotiators, before determining no one was inside the house.

Police said the incident began when a homeowner called 911 to report that they had discovered open windows in a vacant home they owned. They told police they thought someone might be inside.

When officers arrived, they got a key from the homeowner and entered the house. That’s when they were shot.

Early reports indicated the officers were injured in an explosion.

The FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are assisting Wichita police with the investigation.

Police are asking anyone with information to contact the department’s Investigations division at 316- 268-4181 or CrimeStoppers at 316-267-2111.

Tom joined KMUW in 2017 after spending 37 years with The Wichita Eagle where he held a variety of reporting and editing roles. He also is host of The Range, KMUW’s weekly show about where we live and the people who live here. Tom is a board member of the Public Media Journalists Association, serving as small station representative, a volunteer coach for League 42 and an adjunct instructor in the Elliott School of Communication at Wichita State University.