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Kan. chief made call to 'take out' standoff suspect

A long standoff between SWAT and Jared Lee Woosypiti with the death of the suspect, following the chief's orders

By Tim Potter and Stan Finger
The Wichita Eagle

WICHITA, Kan. — Wichita Police Chief Norman Williams on Monday described efforts to subdue a suspect who prompted a long standoff at an apartment complex last week and said he eventually made the decision to "take out" the man.

Williams declined to answer reporters' questions about who fired upon the man, identified as Jared Lee Woosypiti.

Williams said he hadn't seen the autopsy report and can't say whether Woosypiti was killed by an officer or killed himself. The police chief said he knew who fired a shot but wasn't going to say who it was until the investigation was complete.

Over the course of the standoff, nine different SWAT teams from the Wichita region were involved, Williams said.

Reno County Sheriff Randy Henderson is leading an investigation of the shooting.

A police document confirmed that Woosypiti is the man who died late Thursday night at Southlake Village apartments, 4141 S. Seneca. The document also said Woosypiti was killed by police gunfire, ending a drama that started at about 2:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Woosypiti was wanted on suspicion of firing shots in a Wichita Kmart on Wednesday afternoon and for stabbing his girlfriend July 4 at a residence in Derby.

Williams gave this account of the threats and challenges police faced throughout the standoff:

Williams noted that Woosypiti was wanted in the stabbing and that on July 10, he had tried to rob the Kmart, at Broadway and 47th Street South, of drugs and had fired multiple shots at people near the pharmacy. According to his girlfriend, he had been consuming drugs. That wasn't all.

Authorities also had information that he might be making bombs with nails in them.

A relative indicated that he was talking about "suicide by cop," that he would not come out of the apartment, that officers would have to come in for him, and that the apartment "would go up like the Fourth of July." Police had to be careful because of the possibility that booby traps had been set for them, Williams said.

Based on a partial car tag, authorities were able to track him to the apartment complex on South Seneca.

A SWAT team was activated, and between 7 to 10:30 p.m. the first night of the standoff, Woosypiti fired rounds five different times. About 10 p.m., after consultations, a decision was made to set off a controlled blast on the south side of the apartment building and get tear gas inside. By that point, Woosypiti had barricaded doors and windows.

Through the night and into the morning, police continued to wait him out, Williams said.

In the morning, police had contact with him, and he said he was coming out but didn't. He instead appears to have kicked a hole, through Sheetrock, into the apartment to the west of the unit he had been in. At 8:24 a.m., officers tossed a phone to him. They used loudspeakers and tear gas and kept asking him to surrender, but he didn't respond, Williams said.

When a police dog and officer tried to get to him, he heard them and fired. There was return fire and "suppression" fire to give the K-9 team time to safely get out about 5:46 p.m., on the second night of the standoff. A little after 10 p.m., a decision was made to use more controlled explosives to get him to come out and to use a water cannon to knock down wallboard to get a better view so that more tear gas could be used.

Also around 10 p.m. that second night, after consultation with the city law department and other agencies and after considering all of the threats Woosypiti posed, Williams said he made the final decision "to go ahead and take him out; if the shot was there, to go ahead and take it."

Williams again summarized the list of things police had done to subdue Woosypiti by that point.

"So when you look at all of these things, the decision was made by me to go ahead and take him out."

Henderson, the Reno County sheriff, who will lead the investigation of the standoff response, said he had assigned three detectives to the task. The investigation also will involve the District Attorney's Office and the state fire marshal. About 30 of 70 police officers involved have been interviewed, Henderson said. Residents of the apartment complex also will be interviewed. All reports will be turned over to the District Attorney's Office.

Henderson said he wouldn't jeopardize the investigation by rushing it.

Copyright 2013 The Wichita Eagle

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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