IEDs found in residence, man arrested after 12-hour standoff in SE Kansas

The Montgomery County Sheriff's Office arrested Aaron Whittely following at 12-hour long...
The Montgomery County Sheriff's Office arrested Aaron Whittely following at 12-hour long standoff Monday into Tuesday. Detectives found improvised explosive devices in Whittley's home after the standoff was over.(Montgomery County Sheriff's Office)
Published: Mar. 28, 2023 at 10:31 PM CDT
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CHERRYVALE, Kan. (KWCH) - The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office (MGSO) arrested a man Tuesday morning after a standoff involving multiple law enforcement agencies.

The sheriff’s office said the incident started on Monday when Cherryvale police responded to a local convenience store where Aaron E. Whittley had been accused of stealing several items. The sheriff’s office said police had several encounters with Whittley over the past week. While investigating the theft, police learned Whittley had made several social media posts throughout the day threatening multiple people and making homicidal/suicidal statements.

Considering Whittley’s history and homicidal comments, Cherryvale police requested assistance from the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office.

Before the sheriff’s office arrived, police attempted to make contact with Whittley at his home in the 400 block of East 4th in Cherryvale. An officer saw Whittley fire two shots in the air with a handgun and then run into the residence. The sheriff’s office said due to the nature of this incident, the Montgomery County Emergency Response Team (SWAT) was activated and responded to the scene.

The MGSO SWAT team arrived on the scene at 8:00 p.m. and began the “armed and barricaded subject” procedure. After evaluating the situation, it was determined MGSO SWAT would need further assistance. The Coffeyville Police Department SWAT team was requested to respond to the scene while the Kansas Bureau of Investigations SWAT team was placed on standby.

MGSO SWAT and Coffeyville SWAT worked together giving announcements over the loudspeaker for Whittley to come out of the residence. The sheriff’s office said Whittley did not comply.

The SWAT teams used less lethal gas munitions, robots, and drones in an effort to find Whittley in the residence and get him to come out. After a couple of hours and no response from Whittley, the MGSO SWAT requested KBI SWAT’s assistance.

KBI SWAT was supported by the Pratt County Kansas Sheriff’s Office which brought in additional tools and robots. KBI SWAT continued announcements and deployed less lethal gas munitions into the residence all through the night in an attempt for Whittley to comply.

Just before 8:00 a.m. on Tuesday, March 28, KBI SWAT entered the residence and located Whittley inside a bedroom. The sheriff’s office said he was responsive but appeared to be lethargic. Whittley admitted to ingesting a large amount of sleeping aid medication at some point throughout the night. The KBI SWAT team took Whittley into custody without further incident.

Whittley was taken to Labette Health ER in Independence. He was later released and taken to the Montgomery County Department of Corrections.

Montgomery County Detectives searched his home and found what appeared to be explosives inside the room where Whittley was located. The Kansas Highway Patrol Bomb Squad was contacted and determined that the explosives were Improvised Explosive Devices. The KHP Bomb Squad took the IEDs to disarm them.

Sheriff Ron Wade called the situation “scary” being that the IEDs were at a location so close to the local elementary school.

“We contacted USD 447 and asked them to cancel school because of the seriousness of the situation. We take the safety of our kids in Montgomery County very seriously, and I am thankful the school district agreed and feels the same way.” Wade said, “This is an ongoing investigation and there will be several more hours put into this to make sure there is no more threats to the public.”

Whittley was booked into jail on the recommended charges of two counts of criminal threat. Additional charges will be added later. This case has been sent to the Montgomery County Attorney’s Office for review and proper charging.