West Wichita incident that led to school lockdown, cleared

The standoff ended after Wichita police, along with their mental healthcare partners made the call to back away, hoping space would allow the man to get help.
Published: Sep. 13, 2023 at 2:57 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Wednesday night Update: The Wichita Police Department said an incident in the area of 10th and High has been cleared, ending a standoff that lasted about seven hours with an armed man suffering from a mental health crisis. The standoff ended after Wichita police, along with their mental healthcare partners made the call to back away, hoping the space would allow the man to get the help he needs.

“We came to the conclusion that the presence of first responders around him was making the situation a little more critical. His demeanor changed when we were close to him and when we retreated, he was a little more calm and relaxed,” said Wichita Police Department Public spokesperson Juan Rebolledo.

The standoff started about noon Wednesday when policed responded to a call to check on the 39-year-old man believed to be having a mental health issue.

“During the initial contact, the patient retrieved a handgun. The responding team decided to retreat from the house and called additional resources,” Rebolledo said.

SWAT and negotiators took over and began talking with the man while Black Elementary School was placed in a lockout mode.

“All of our students were moved inside the school and activities continued inside the school,” said Terri Moses, Safety and Environmental Services Division Director for Wichita Public Schools.

After school, students were bussed to Hadley Middle School where they were reunited with family.

Update: Parents of students at Black Traditional Magnet Elementary School must pick up their children at Hadley Middle School on Wednesday afternoon. Wichita police and SWAT are trying to coax a man believed to be armed with a handgun out of his home. The house is located directly across the street from the elementary school.

The district said all students at Black, including those who walk or get dropped off, will be bussed over the Hadley. Parents or an approved person can pick up their children from the middle school.

Terri Moses, Division Director, Safety and Environmental Services for Wichita Public Schools, said parents were notified about the dismissal modification via ParentLink. She asked that everyone be patient with the process. Wichita police will help provide traffic control.

At 12:04 p.m., ICT-1 responded to a welfare check for a person with a mental health crisis at a home across from an elementary school, according to Wichita Police. When the specialized team arrived, the patient they were there to help pulled out a handgun.

Police said the team retreated and requested additional resources. SWAT was called out as a precaution. Negotiators are actively speaking to the patient attempting to resolve the situation peacefully.

Police asked neighbors to voluntarily evacuate while man remained alone at home. All but one decided to leave. That person was advised to shelter in place.

Wichita police and SWAT are on the scene of a standoff near 9th and High (Zoo Blvd.).

A spokesperson for the Wichita Police Department confirms they are dealing with a person having a mental health crisis. He said the man is barricaded in a home alone, but police suspect he may be armed.

The spokesperson said the man is being uncooperative with police, and they are taking extra precautions due to the proximity of Black Traditional Magnet School.

A spokesperson for the district said Black has been placed on lockout, meaning no one is allowed inside. Classes will be dismissed on time, and parents have been notified that students are being bussed to Hadley Middle School where they can be picked up.

The police department sent out an alert warning residents about an “active threat” and a “very dangerous situation.”

“Avoid the area if you can, or shelter in place in a safe location. Get to a basement if you can; otherwise, stay away from windows. For more information, monitor local media. Do not call 911 unless you need police, fire or EMS,” reads the alert.