WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Wichita Police Chief Gordon Ramsay said protesters took aim at police officers late Monday night into Tuesday morning, shooting at them and throwing bottles and rocks at them.
Ramsay said what started as a peaceful gathering in the area of 21st and Arkansas turned violent. Many were watching cars and bikes burn tires in the intersection.
During that gathering, mentions of George Floyd could be heard from those in the crowd. Floyd died last week in Minneapolis while in police custody. His death has spurred protests across the country and peaceful protests on Saturday in Wichita.
At approximately 11:30 p.m., a front glass at the Metro PCS store was vandalized after random shots began to occur. Disturbances escalated, and multiple people continued firing shots from various locations. The windows of the store were boarded up quickly and nothing inside was taken. A spokesperson for QuikTrip across the street said the store wasn’t damaged, and it wasn’t closed.
To ensure safety, members of the Wichita Police Department SWAT unit could be seen breaking up the crowd, stating it was, “an unlawful assembly and to leave the area immediately.”
Ramsay said officers remained extremely restrained and professional during a harrowing and life-threatening situation.
“We also noted that disturbances are escalating throughout the night, and shots continued after that window was broken caused us more concern,” Ramsay said.
He said that’s when they decided to clear the area. Ramsay said the majority of people left peacefully, but he said 50 to 70 people remained and threw cinder blocks, rocks, and water bottles at the officers.
“In one case, officers heard rounds ricocheting off one of our vehicles,” Ramsay said. “No officers were hit with gunfire however, three of them did get injured with debris that was thrown at them. It is extremely rare for police to take gunfire in, during protests I mean it’s just, you don’t hear about that happening.”
Two people were arrested on suspicion of criminal discharge of a firearm and failure to disperse.
Ramsay said other agencies arrived to help officers. He said that by the time it was over, more than 100 officers were on the scene.
He said officers used chemical irritant smoke rounds to help disperse the crowd. Three officers received minor injuries from the items being thrown, two of them requiring stitches.
If you have any additional information on the incident you can call WPD investigations at (316) 268-4407 or Crime Stoppers at (316) 267-2111.