3 students injured, 3 teens arrested in shooting near Wichita East High School

Wichita police said two people were hurt Tuesday afternoon after a shooting near East High...
Wichita police said two people were hurt Tuesday afternoon after a shooting near East High School.(KWCH)
Published: Sep. 21, 2021 at 12:28 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Tuesday evening update, Sept. 21, 2021: Wichita police have left the scene of the Tuesday afternoon shooting on Spruce Street, just north of East High School. East High was placed on lockdown during the incident. Parents who spoke with Eyewitness News said they were concerned because the shooting happened so close to the school.

Police said two bullets struck the building, but no one inside of East High at the time was injured. Three students who were outside campus during lunch where shot just north of Douglas and Spruce Street. Police said the three injured teens and three teen suspects arrested in the case knew each other and this was part of an ongoing dispute. Police said the suspects are three males, one 17 years old and two who are 16.

The principal at East High School sent a letter Tuesday, pleading parents to remain connected to their children’s lives and if a student feels unsafe, to contact an adult at the school.

“Violence is a problem and we’ve seen increased use of firearms among teens and we’ve been talking about it all year,” Wichita Police Department Chief Gordon Ramsay said. “We’ve been aggressively arresting shooting suspects. There needs to be more involvement from families and community on talking about the ramifications of this kind of behavior.”

Police also located the gun used in the crime and other evidence they way was related to the shooting. Wichita police said witness descriptions helped them to quickly locate the suspects, providing details on what the suspects were wearing and the car they were in. Based on information, police were able to get a license pate number of the car from traffic cameras and then used their Flock camera system, a network of license plate readers, to track the suspects’ car.

The Wichita Police Department has been using Flock for less than a year, but credits it for already making a difference, helping investigators to solve crimes.

“Statistics that it procured were phenomenal for stolen car recovery, property value recoveries, missing children that are associated with a targeted vehicle, bank robberies, all kinds of different things. It’s proven itself extremely beneficial,” said Wichita Police Capt. Kevin Kochenderfer.

Police said they provide the Flock system with a license plate number or a car’s description. The license plate readers in the city then alert officers when and where that car is seen.

Eyewitness News also spoke with witnesses to Tuesday’s shooing near East High School who realized three students were shot moments after hearing gunshots near the school.

“My first though as Columbine, I’m not going to lie to you,” witness Ayden Jefferson said, referencing the 1999 deadly school shooting at a high school in Littleton, Colo. “Me and my bro, we took off. We ran around the corner to see the kids and we’re telling them to go inside. I have three kids of my own, so I’m like, ‘Oh, they are shooting near a school? What’s going on?’ I’m still anxious right now.”

Witnesses said the shooting happened during students’ lunch hour and several students were outside at the time of the shooting. An eyewitness on scene before EMS arrived said he quickly noticed that he personally knows the three students who were injured. All three are expected to make full recoveries, police said.

In a letter to parents Tuesday afternoon, Wichita East provided details from the shooting and said on Wednesday, it will have the Wichita school district’s crisis team available for students and staff. The team was also at the school on Tuesday afternoon.

2:35 p.m. Update: Wichita Police Chief Gordon Ramsay said Tuesday afternoon three students were injured in a shooting near East High School.

One student suffered a “through-and-through” gunshot wound to the leg and another was grazed by a bullet. Another student then showed up to the nurse’s office with a graze wound, according to the chief.

Ramsay said at least three suspects, all teenagers, are now in custody in connection to the shooting. Police don’t believe suspects attend East High. Ramsay said the shooting appears to have stemmed from an ongoing dispute between the individuals and is not random. He said he did not know if it was gang-related.

When it comes to teen violence, Ramsay said his department has seen an increase in firearms among teens. He said officers are working to aggressively arrest shooting suspects, but he said the problem goes beyond the police.

“There needs to be more involvement in families and community on talking about the ramifications of this behavior. And to be honest, many times, it feels like people just look to police and we are the sole beginning and answers to all of these problems. And it isn’t that simple,” said the chief.

Ramsay said at least one firearm was recovered from the location where the shooting suspects were arrested, as well as, the suspect vehicle.

1:50 p.m. Update: Two Wichita East High School students were injured Tuesday afternoon during a shooting in a nearby neighborhood.

Wichita Police Bureau Commander, Captain Kevin Kochenderfer, said dispatchers received several 911 calls from citizens in the neighborhood north of East High about a disturbance with gunshots fired involving kids. Kochenderfer said the shooting happened during lunchtime in an alleyway about 50 feet north of Douglas. After the incident, the students ran back to the school for help. Both suffered superficial gunshot wounds and were taken to the hospital for treatment. Their parents have been notified.

Kochenderfer said with help from photos taken by neighbors, police were able to enter the tag number from the suspect vehicle and enter it into the FLOCK camera system. Police were able to track the vehicle, get in front of it and use it to take at least two persons of interest into custody.

Kochenderfer said at least one bullet went off the building but did not go into the school.

Terri Moses, Executive Director of Safety Services at Wichita Public Schools, said no one on the campus was hurt. She said the school went into lockdown, and students who were outside were made to come in. She said the lockdown will be lifted, and the school day will continue as normal. Parents who wish to pick up their students early will need to arrive with an ID to do so.

12:55 p.m. Update: A spokesperson for Wichita Public Schools says initial reports are that there was a shooting off-campus and someone came to East High School for help. They are still gathering reports.

Wichita police are on the scene of a shooting near East High School.

Sedgwick County dispatchers said the call came in as a shooting with at least two patients.

We have a crew headed to the scene.

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