WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — A Maize police officer has been injured during the shooting of an alleged suspect in northwest Wichita. Police say an officer shot an alleged shoplifting suspect, and a bullet fragment hit a different officer.
Maize Police Chief Jeff Weible said it started with a suspicious person/shoplifting call from Menards at Maize Road and 37th Street North around 1:45 p.m.
Sedgwick County dispatchers sent Wichita Police Department officers to the scene. Weible said Maize officers were closer and responded first.
The police chief said Maize officers saw the alleged suspect traveling south and found him climbing into a drain.
“As officers were making contact, the suspect indicated he had a gun,” Weible said. “As they were getting the suspect out of the drain to take him into custody, the suspect made a very quick move. Officer fired shots, striking the suspect. A fragment of those shots struck another officer in the hand.”
Wichita and Maize officers who arrived rendered aid at the scene.
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The alleged suspect was in critical condition as he was taken to the hospital. The officer was also taken to a hospital but was in good condition.
Weible said the alleged suspect is a 41-year-old man.
“The store believed that the individual was inside shoplifting, and it came out as a shoplift call/suspicious character,” he said.
The police chief said it is still early in the investigation, and he does not know for sure if the 41-year-old was armed with a gun.
“I don’t know what was in his hand when he came out and pointed toward the officers,” Weible said. “There was no shots fired by the suspect. I still have not confirmed what was in his hand.”
The Maize Police Department has asked a joint team from the Wichita Police Department and the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office to investigate the shooting. The WPD says it is the lead agency.
Adrian Perez works at the nearby car wash. He said he saw the alleged suspect wandering around, acting suspiciously. Perez said the man was looking into the drain.
“There were grates on the floor. You could just see him open them and jump right in. It was like a Mario game or something the way he jumped in there,” he said.
Perez saw the officer try to get the man out. As the man was starting to come out, Perez heard multiple gunshots.
“I wasn’t really scared. I was just like, woah, just surprised. I’ve been working here for a year. That’s never happened. Even outside of work, I’ve never seen something like that,” he said.
Some Maize USD 266 schools are on 37th Street near Maize Road. The school district put all the schools on its south campus on a modified lockdown for a short time but ended the modified lockdown by 2:19 p.m.
WPD expects to provide an update on Tuesday.