City of Wichita: Adherence to policies would’ve prevented shooting during reenactment at Cowtown

Published: Sep. 24, 2020 at 5:10 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Six days later, questions remain about how a live round made its way into a historical reenactment at Wichita’s Cowtown Museum. The reenactment ended with a 24-year-old man being shot. Police believe that the shooting was accidental, but questions still surround the investigation.

The man wounded by the live round during last Friday’s (Sept. 18) reenactment continues his recovery at a Wichita hospital. Ascension Via Christi St. Francis said the man is in serious condition but is expected to be okay.

To cover hospital expenses, family and friends are raising money for the injured man via a GoFundMe campaign.

“Obviously something happened there that we need to investigate and look into,” Wichita Mayor Brandon Whipple said of the reported accidental shooting. Policywise, we do have measures put in place to ensure stuff like this doesn’t happen. We’re still trying to figure out what went wrong."

As police continue to investigate how a live round was fired during a staged performance, FactFinder 12 is taking a closer look at the policies that should have prevented injuries in the first place. The policy calls for the inspection of outside guns used in a reenactment for confirmation that there isn’t a live round inside. Then, the reenactor is given blanks to use.

The City of Wichita is now looking to see what, if any policies weren’t followed. Police have only said there was an accidental discharge of a gun last Friday.

“We still are investigating what happened here,” Whipple said. "Were those policies being followed? Was it human error, and on whose side was it? Was it on the person who came in with their own equipment? Or was it on the people running the production?

FactFinder 12 wanted to know what training actors at Cowtown have to go through if they are going to use a firearm, and what the rules say. Through an open records request, the City of Wichita did provide some of that information. The rules are strict on how guns are handled and checked.

What the guidelines show is that, if they were followed as written, there should have been no way for an accidental shooting to happen.

All those handing, displaying or carrying a firearm or any other weapon must complete a designated safety training course, and even blank ammunition should never be fired directly at a performer.

The rules clearly state that no live ammo should even be on location. There are many other policies and guidelines in the documents the City of Wichita provided, but it remains unclear just how the live round ended up in the gun used in last Friday’s reenactment at Cowtown.

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