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Compassion marked slain Wyandotte County Deputy Theresa King's life

Posted at 6:09 PM, Jun 20, 2018

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A single mother of three with a big heart for animals and her fellow law enforcement officers will be laid to rest Thursday after a memorial ceremony at Children’s Mercy Park.

Wyandotte County Sheriff’s Deputy Theresa King was one of the two officers gunned down last week in a parking lot at the county’s courthouse during a prisoner transfer. King, 44, and fellow Wyandotte County Sheriff’s Deputy Patrick Rohrer, 35, were killed June 15 after an inmate being transported for a court hearing obtained a deputy's weapon.

“We’re all stunned by this — shocked, saddened,” Kansas City, Kan., Mayor David Alvey said Wednesday in an exclusive interview with 41 Action News.

King — better known by friends as “TK” — was a 13-year veteran with the department and Rohrer was a seven-year veteran with the department.

“I will tell you these were two intelligent, wonderful personalities,” Wyandotte County Sheriff’s Office Major Kelli Bailiff said Saturday during a press briefing. “They were an asset to our agency. They came to work every day with a smile willing to help out, willing to do anything, and it's a tremendous great loss to our agency.”

King, who leaves behind an adult son and daughter and an elementary school-aged daughter, also was a founding member of the Lancaster-Melton Peace Keepers Civitan Club, a group of law enforcement officers and their families dedicated to honoring slain officers.


Ironically, she and Rohrer will now be the first to receive a salute from the local Peace Keepers group, which started after two members of the KCK Police Department — Det. Brad Lancaster and Capt. Dave Melton — were killed in the line of duty less than three months apart in 2016.

The Peace Keepers plan to present 1,000 blue ribbons etched with the words “Never Forgotten” to each family. The poignant message was King’s idea.

"The fact that TK was a founding member of our association, of our chapter, she was really passionate about this,” Peace Keepers President Zeta Bates said.

Bates, a former KCK police officer who was engaged to Melton and now works for the Mission Police Department, became good friends with King through the group.

Another close friend, Meg Rauh, bonded with King when she needed a new home for her four horses — Roper, Coke, Flash and Piper.

“Right away, we hit it off,” Rauh said.

During a recent conversation on Rauh’s 20-acre ranch in Linwood, Kan., where the horses reside, King expressed her excitement about completing school resource officer training. King planned to work at the same school where her 7-year-old attended class.

“You could tell she was so excited for the future,” Rauh said.

It’s a future that won’t happen now, which left Rauh — and much of the Wyandotte County community — in shock she learned of the shooting from her husband, a captain with the Lenexa Fire Department.

“He said, ‘Have you heard the news?’ and I’m like, ‘No, what news?’” Rauh said. “And he was like, ‘Theresa was shot,’ and I froze because she’s a mom, she’s a friend to a lot of people.”

Despite a gloomy forecast, thousands are expected to attend a public memorial service for King and Rohrer, which is scheduled to commence at 9 a.m. Thursday at Children’s Mercy Park, 1 Sporting Way in Kansas City, Kan.

"We're all human behind the badge,” President of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #40 Max Sybrant said Sunday during a vigil to honor King and Rohrer. “We see a lot of tragedy. We see a lot of grief. It hits really close to home when it's one of your own.”

After the public service, each family will have a private burial later in the afternoon.

“This is really for the families, so we’re doing everything we can to assist them,” Alvey said. “… First of all, I want healing for the families and I want healing for our law enforcement personnel and all their friends. That’s first and foremost.”

Alvey added that there will be an examination of the procedures for prisoner transport to “make sure we’re doing everything we can to prevent this from happening again,” Alvey said. “And, of course, we want justice for the families and for the community.”

Unfortunately, this is not the first time Wyandotte County law enforcement has suffered tragedy in recent years.

Three years ago, Wyandotte County Sheriff’s Deputy Scott Wood was shot seven times during an attempted robbery at a convenience store. He survived after a two-week hospital stay.

Three men received life sentences for the attempted murder of Wood, who was off-duty at the time of the shooting and spent several weeks in the hospital recovering from his injuries.

Lancaster wasshot in killed in May 2016 after responding to a call about a suspicious person near Hollywood Casino. Curtis Ayers pleaded guilty to capital murder in January 2017.

Melton was shot and killed in July 2016 after responding to a shots-fired call. Jamaal Lewis’s murder trial in that case is set for November.

The suspected shooter in last week’s shootings, Antoine Fielder, who also was shot and remains hospitalized, was in custody awaiting trial July 30 on a robbery charge.

Fielder also been charged in Jackson County with first-degree murder, assault, and two counts of armed criminal action in connection with the shooting death of Rosemarie Harmon in Kansas City, Mo., last December.

Additionally, Fielder faces aggravated robbery, criminal possession of a firearm and two counts of tampering with a witness that stem from a 2015 trial for the murder of Kelsey Ewonus, a 22-year-old Overland Park woman who was shot to death near the University of Kansas Hospital.

Two juries in the murder of Ewonus were unable to reach unanimous verdicts and prosecutors eventually were forced to dismiss the case. He was on parole at that time for unrelated drug conviction.