Four men charged in connection to burglary that led to shooting of Independence police officer

Posted at 10:54 AM, Mar 30, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-30 23:46:41-04

The Jackson County Prosecutor has charged four men on Thursday in connection with the burglary that led to the shooting of a police officer.

Previous story: Independence police officer injured in shooting remains in critical condition, suspects charged 

Ronar Santiago-Torres, 27, Joseph E. Wyatt, 28, James McChan, 56, and Donald Nussbaum, 51, are facing charges. 

Santiago-Torres and Wyatt are charged with two counts of burglary, one count of kidnapping and one count of armed criminal action. Both men were also charged with first-degree assault causing physical injury or a special victim.  

McChan and Nussbaum face first-degree robbery, armed criminal action, first-degree burglary and kidnapping. Charging documents revealed Nussbaum is the son of the home robbery victim's girlfriend. 

Ronar Santiago-Torres (left) and Joseph E. Wyatt

On Wednesday morning, Independence police responded to the 3600 block of South Delaware Avenue regarding a home burglary.

According to court records when they found Santiago-Torres and Wyatt inside the house, both suspects fled by taking the homeowner's car and driving it through the closed garage door.

Officers found the homeowner in his house with his hands bound with zip-ties. Paramedics took him to the hospital.

The victim told officers he was home when Santiago-Torres and Wyatt knocked on his door, stating they were looking for a lost dog and also offering gutter cleaning.

The homeowner sent them away but minutes later one of them knocked on the door, according to the probable cause statement.

When the homeowner opened the door, one of the suspects displayed a black semiautomatic handgun with a long barrel, court documents stated. He warned the victim that he had a silencer on the gun, so he could shoot the victim without anyone hearing it, documents said.

The suspects forced their way into the residence and threw the victim against a sliding glass door where they began beating the victim, according to charging documents. They tied his hands in front of him and demanded the location of the victim's safe. One of the suspects held the victim at gunpoint as the other ransacked the home, court documents show.

After finding the safe, one of the suspects demanded the combination from the victim, according to court documents. When the victim said he didn't know it, they beat him again. While the offense was occurring, the victim's girlfriend had looked at a remote video feed of the victim's residence and saw what was going on.

When the suspects heard approaching sirens, they asked the victim where his car keys were. When he told them, they went out to his garage and got in the car. They then started the engine and drove through the closed garage doors, according to police.

Santiago-Torres admitted that he and Wyatt forced their way into the residence and then restrained and held the victim at gunpoint while searching his house, according to court documents. 

They repeatedly struck the victim with a handgun, and when they heard sirens they stole the victim's car and fled in it, police said. 

Both suspects admitted to detectives to going inside the residence, taking a gun from the victim and stealing $1,200 to $1,500.

Wyatt told police he got in the driver's seat of the victim's car while Santiago-Torres got in the passenger seat and drove the car through the closed garage door and fled from police who had "bright white lights.”

Police found a black pellet gun inside the victim's garage. The pellet gun was a black semiautomatic replica with a replica suppressor on it.


Additional charges filed in Independence robbery and officer shooting

Donald Nussbaum (left) and James McChan 

According to court documents filed on Thursday, McChan and Nussbaum took Wyatt and Santiago-Torres to the home of the robbery.

Nussbaum told officials he drove the suspects to the area knowing they planned to rob someone. McChan also told police he dropped off Santiago-Torres and Wyatt a few blocks away from the victim's residence. 

All four suspects are being held on a $500,000 cash only bond.

There is no word yet on when they'll make their first court appearances.  

Ongoing shooting investigation 

In the process of Santiago-Torres and Wyatt busting through the garage door, shots were fired.

One of the bullets struck Independence Police Officer Thomas Wagstaff.

"This officer is fighting for his life as we stand here, and we are praying for his full recovery," Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said in a news conference Thursday afternoon.

The investigation continues to determine who pulled the trigger. At this point, law enforcement hasn’t ruled out friendly fire.

"It is possible that through some freakish event or some kind of one-in-a-million scenario that could not be expected or replicated in a lab if you tried to repeat it, that incident could have happened," Baker said.

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story had the incorrect mugshot for Joseph Wyatt. Police provided the incorrect photo and later sent the correct photo. This story now has the correct mugshot for suspect Joseph Wyatt.