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Independence police officer injured in shooting remains in critical condition, 4 suspects charged

Posted: 10:31 AM, Mar 29, 2017
Updated: 2017-03-31 12:06:51-04

Independence police said the officer injured in a shooting Wednesday morning is Officer Thomas Wagstaff, a 15-year veteran of the Independence Police department.

Four people were charged on Thursday  in connection to the burglary that led to the shooting of Wagstaff: 27-year-old Ronar Santiago-Torres, 28-year-old Joseph Edward Wyatt, 56-year-old James McChan and 51-year-old Donald Nussbaum. 

Wagstaff is being treated at Centerpoint Medical Center. He is in critical condition, according to hospital officials.

Church members told 41 Action News his wife, two teenage sons and pastor have been by his side all day long. 

“He actually seems to be more alert than anybody would have thought after being shot in the head,” said Yael Abouhalkah, who attends church with Wagstaff and visited him in the hospital. “It appears he recognizes there are people around him talking to him, about him.”    

Independence Police Capt. Carl Perry said the officer was shot at 36th and Delaware when police responded to a burglary in progress call.

 

The suspects fled the scene in a vehicle taken from a home and led police on a chase that ended at East 23rd Street and South Cedar Avenue, Independence Police said.

Two suspects were taken into custody on the 2300 block of Cedar. Officials say they aren't looking for others.

A witness said they heard sirens and saw more than a dozen police cars go through the intersection of 23rd and Maywood. 

Multiple police agencies assisted Independence police.

“You get the phone call, ‘We are going to need your trucks. We need two trucks,’ and you think to yourself what are we going to see when we get there, where is he,” said Karla Ramos, who owns Independence Specialty Tow.

Her company responded to the scene. 

“We just pray and hope he has a full recovery,” she said. “And we just want to let him know we are here and want [him] back at any moment.” 

According to the Jackson County Prosecutor's Office, the shooting remains under investigation and is being led by the the Kansas City Police Department at the request of Independence police. 

Ty Hampshire, who lives a few doors down from where the crime started, said his quiet morning suddenly changed.

"I was sitting at the table in the kitchen and I was having some breakfast at that particular moment," he explained. "I was just sitting and watching the morning news and I heard a pop-pop."

As a resident on South Cottage Ave for almost 20 years, Hampshire told 41 Action News that Wednesday's incident came as a shock to him.

"I've spent 18 years in this neighborhood and we've never had anything like this happen before. Never," he explained. "There's never been anything with the intensity that this had."

Later on Wednesday, a couple down the street from Hampshire returned home and set a tribute to Officer Thomas Wagstaff.

 

 

 

At the home of Annie and Tim Herndon, a "Thin Blue Line" flag hung on their front porch.

"As soon as we knew what had happened here in our neighborhood today, we came home and Tim got the flag out," Annie Herndon explained. "This flag is our way of showing our support of those men and women and what they do for us everyday."

Members of the community and law enforcement gathered together for a prayer service at Eastside Baptist Church late Wednesday.
 
A Blue Springs officer said he received an email from his captain, and he came right away. 
 
"It's devastating, I'm terrified, shocked that it is this close to home," Officer Matthew Diggs said. "You see it on the news, CNN, worldwide, but for it to be at home like this a couple miles down the road, it is one of those eye opening experiences.”

 

 

 

 

Wednesday's shooting serves as a reminder of the danger police face on a daily basis. In the past year, three officers have died on the line of duty. 

Kansas City, Kansas detective Brad Lancaster was killed in May 2016 while helping other officers investigate a report of a suspicious person near the Kansas Speedway. Prosecutors say Curtis Ayers shot Lancaster and stole his car before carjacking another vehicle. 

Two months later,  KCK Capt. Robert Melton died while helping search for suspects in a drive-by shooting. Melton had helped plan Lancaster's funeral. 

In September, Master Deputy Brandon Collins with the Johnson County Sheriff's Office died while conducing a traffic stop on U.S. 69. Police say Adrian Espinosa-Flores was driving drunk and slammed into Collins' parked patrol car.

Wagstaff Donation Fund

A donation account has been set up for Wagstaff's family.

Donations can be delivered to the police department, 223 N. Memorial Drive with attention to Officer L. Virgil or delivered to the Greater KC Public Safety Credit Union, located at 19341 East. U.S. 40 Highway. Check can be made out to Answering the Call.

If you have questions, contact Officer Virgil at 816-325-7643 

 

 

 

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