2 Kansas officers fatally shot outside market, suspect dead
A man is suspected of killing Cpl. David Gogian and Jeff Atherly as they responded to a report of a suspicious vehicle
By John Hanna
TOPEKA, Kansas — A man with a history of theft and weapons convictions gunned down two police officers investigating possible drug activity in a Kansas grocery parking lot, and was later killed after an armed standoff, authorities said Monday.
Kyle Smith of the Kansas Bureau of Investigation identified the man who opened fire on Topeka police Cpl. David Gogian, 50, and Officer Jeff Atherly, 29, on Sunday night as 22-year-old David Tiscareno of Topeka.
Shawnee County Sheriff Herman Jones said Tiscareno was seated behind the driver's seat of a car stopped in the parking lot of a Topeka grocery store when police ordered the occupants to get out. After shooting two of the three responding officers, Tiscareno got back into the car and drove from the scene. The third officer returned fire, Jones said.
"There were people inside the store," Jones said during a news conference. "There were residents who saw this going on. There were people driving. There was a multitude of witnesses there."
Gogian and Atherly were shot in the head, according to authorities.
Based on a tip, law enforcement officers found Tiscareno holed up early Monday at a house about a mile away. When negotiations broke down, Kansas Bureau of Investigation agents fired tear gas inside. Tiscareno then emerged from the home with a gun and officers opened fire, according to the Shawnee County sheriff's office, which is leading the investigation.
Smith said investigators believe Tiscareno fired a shot outside the home before authorities returned fire. Tiscareno was declared dead at a hospital.
Topeka police Chief Ronald Miller described his 280-officer force as "numb." The shootings in the Kansas capital followed last week's massacre at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school. Closer to Topeka, earlier this month, Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher killed his girlfriend, then drove to the team's practice site and committed suicide.
"There's a lot of people in this country that are grieving some of the things that have happened over the last several days, and we're just counted among that group," Miller said.
Online court records show Tiscareno was charged in September 2008 with one count of theft of less than $1,000. He pleaded no contest in April 2009 and was sentenced to 12 months of supervised probation. His probation was revoked in January 2010.
In March 2011, he was charged with criminal use of weapons and was sentenced that September to 12 months unsupervised probation, also after pleading no contest. A notation in court records available online said, "This defendant should be advised against carry a firearm."
Court records also show that in February 2011, Tiscareno was evicted from an east Topeka apartment for failing to pay the rent and that a local hospital sued him for failing to pay almost $9,100 in bills.
Jones said he wasn't sure whether there was a drug deal or drug use going on in the store parking lot; the person who called authorities reported drug activity.
The third officer at the scene was not hurt and has been placed on administrative leave with pay, which is standard procedure when an officer is involved in a shooting, authorities said.
The other people who were in the car when the shootings happened have been questioned. Authorities would not say whether they might face charges.
Miller said he had hoped that Tiscareno would be arrested so that he could stand trial.
"One of the things that concerns me is that we don't really know why he did what he did," Miller said.
The last time a Topeka officer was killed in the line of duty was 2000, and it's been longer than that _ since 1995 _ that one was fatally shot on the job.
Gogian had served with the police since September 2004 and had an adult son who's also a Topeka police officer. Atherly joined the department in April 2011.
Gogian was a retired Kansas Air National Guard sergeant and a former Marine Corp reservist. A biography prepared for his retirement and released by guard officials said Gogian and his wife had four children.
"He had spent his life in service to his country and in the city of Topeka," Miller said.
Atherly was "just getting started" in his career, Miller said.
Copyright 2012 Associated Press
Copyright 2015 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.