TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNW) – Approximately 60 soldiers of the Kansas National Guard’s 242nd Engineer Company departed on a humanitarian mission to Puerto Rico to assist local authorities with debris removal and damage assessments in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.
The soldiers will be relieving a National Guard unit from another state and are expected to be in Puerto Rico for 30 days.
“The damage and the suffering in Puerto Rico is extensive; it is going to take years to fully recover,” said Governor Sam Brownback. “I am proud of our Kansas National Guard troops as they take part in the recovery efforts and put boots on the ground right where they are needed. God bless them and we look forward to their safe return.”
“This is just the type of assistance mission our Soldiers train for and they are ready and eager to help the citizens of Puerto Rico,” said Lt. Col. David Burk, commander, 891st Engineer Battalion. “I have every confidence they will carry out this mission with skill, professionalism, and pride.”
The mission, made at the request of Puerto Rico, was arranged by the Kansas Division of Emergency Management through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact, a multi-state, mutual aid agreement that facilitates interstate assistance in response and recovery operations during a disaster.
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) – Authorities say officers have shot and wounded three suspects during an exchange of gunfire in Kansas City, Kansas.
Police officer Cameron Morgan says the suspects were taken to a hospital with minor injuries Monday night. No officers were hurt. Morgan says the shooting happened during a traffic stop that was part of a “violent crime investigation.” A fourth person in the suspect’s vehicle wasn’t shot.
Morgan provided no details on the investigation or what led up to the shooting. He says a Kansas City, Kansas, officer who also is an FBI task force officer was involved.
After the shooting, police pursued a vehicle into Kansas City, Missouri. Police initially suspected the vehicle’s occupants of possible ties to the shooting but said later that they aren’t believed to be directly involved.
SALINA, Kan. (AP) – A Salina man who admitted killing his infant son will get a new sentencing hearing under an amended law involving how a court determines if a defendant has an intellectual disability.
On Monday, 31-year-old Nicholas Corbin’s sentenced was rescheduled for Feb. 23. Corbin and his girlfriend, 24-year-old Desirah Overturf, both pleaded guilty to premeditated murder in the death of their 3-month-old son.
The Salina Journal reports Corbin filed a motion seeking to be found a person with an intellectual disability. That motion was denied in February 2015 and Corbin was sentenced to life in prison with no parole for 25 years.
During Corbin’s appeal, state law was changed to include more ways to determine intellectual disability, prompting the Kansas Supreme Court to send Corbin’s case back for review.
SANTA BARBARA, CA (WCMH) – Just in time for the holidays, Hidden Valley and Flavourgallery.com are offering ranch dressing lovers a chance to order a keg of the popular salad dressing.
The keg is 6.3 inches in diameter and holds up to five liters of ranch dressing.
The keg is also specially coated to meet FDA standards and comes with a year supply of Hidden Valley Ranch.
The keg is available for pre-order today and is scheduled to ship December 11.
JUNCTION CITY, Kan. (KSNW) – The Junction City Police Department is investigating vandalism at Highland Cemetery.
Thirty stones were damaged last night or early this morning. If anyone has any information, call JCPD 785-762-5912 or leave a webtip by clicking here.
You will remain anonymous and be eligible for a cash reward.
TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNW) – Kansans safely disposed of more than six tons of unused medicines during last month’s National Drug Take-Back Day, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said today.
Kansas law enforcement officers collected 13,337 pounds of medicines at 87 locations throughout the state during the October 28 event, according to a report from the federal Drug Enforcement Administration.
“Safe storage and proper disposal are the keys to preventing the accidental or intentional misuse of medications,” Schmidt said. “Kansans continue to recognize the importance of safely disposing of their unused medicines during these semi-annual Drug Take-Back events. I appreciate the leadership of the DEA and local law enforcement agencies in providing this service for Kansans.”
Kansans have safely destroyed a total of 131,030 pounds of medications in the 14 collection days that have been held since 2010. Law enforcement agencies turn the drugs they collect over to the DEA, which safely destroys the medications.
Unused prescriptions can be turned in year-round at many local law enforcement locations. Kansans should contact their local sheriff’s office or police department for more information.
SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, Texas (NBC News) – Investigators continue their search for answers after the Sunday morning massacre inside a Baptist church in Texas, while families plan and prepare for more than two-dozen funerals.
Memorials are growing around the church for the 26 people killed.
Twenty people were wounded, including Rosanne Solis.
“I was hiding under the benches and I could see him, his feet walking back and forth through the aisles…I knew I was going to die, I knew it,” said Solis.
Somehow she survived the attack that was carried out by 26-year-old Devin Patrick Kelley, who police say targeted the church where his ex-wife and in-laws were members, though they were not at the service on Sunday.
“We know he had made threatening texts, there was a domestic situation going on within the family, with the in laws,” said Freeman Martin of the Texas Department of Public Safety.
Air force records show Kelly was court-martialed in 2012, after he was convicted of beating his first wife and fracturing his baby stepson’s skull. The military confined him for a year then discharged him for bad conduct.
TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNW) – The Kansas Department of Health and Environment has issued a boil water advisory for the public water supply in Garden Plain in Sedgwick County.
KDHE officials issued the advisory because of a chlorine malfunction.
The advisory took effect on November 7, 2017 and will remain in effect until conditions which place the system at risk of contamination are deemed by KDHE officials to be adequately resolved.
Customers should observe the following precautions until further notice:
- Boil water for one minute prior to drinking or food preparation, or use bottled water.
- Dispose of ice cubes and do not use ice from a household automatic icemaker.
- Disinfect dishes and other food contact surfaces by immersion for at least one minute in clean tap water that contains one teaspoon of unscented household bleach per gallon of water.
- Water used for bathing does not generally need to be boiled. Supervision of children is necessary while bathing so that water is not ingested.
- Persons with cuts or severe rashes may wish to consult their physicians.
- If your tap water appears dirty, flush the water lines by letting the water run until it clears.
Public water suppliers in Kansas take all measures necessary to notify customers quickly after a system failure.
SEDGWICK COUNTY, Kan. (KSNW) — Kansans are already heading to the polls for the general election.
Polls are now open until 7 p.m.
RELATED LINK | Your guide to Kansas elections
Election officials said to make sure your polling place is the same, as some locations did change. Polling places can be found on the Sedgwick County election website, the phone app or by calling the election office at (316) 660-7100.
County election commissioner, Tabitha Lehman, stressed the importance of being informed on who and what you’ll be voting on. The county website has a link to a sample ballot.
Lehman added that voters need to be aware about their school district elections. Depending on the district, voters may see all the candidates on their ballot or just candidates within the district in which the voter lives.
“Those school districts can define their own rules as to how their elections are conducted, so that does cause some confusion for voters,” said Lehman. “Like in [USD] 259, you will see all the candidates for all of the offices on your ballot, and you are eligible to vote for all of those so go ahead and do that.”
Lastly, bring a government-issued ID to check in with at the polls.
Dozens of cities across the county will vote on school and city leaders. In Wichita, voters will decide four school board races and three city council seats.
Wichita School District
- District 1: Betty Arnold, Ben Blankley
- District 2: Julie Hendrick, Trish Hileman, Debra Washington
- District 5: Peter Grant, Mike Rodee
- District 6: Walt Chappell, Shirley Jefferson, Ron Rosales
Wichita City Council (Only residents of the specific districts can vote)
- District 1: Brandon Johnson, Mike Kinard
- District 3: James Clendenin, Wlliam Stofer
- District 6: Cindy Claycomb, Sybil Strum
Lehman said people who live in Circle School District in Sedgwick County won’t head to the polls, as they don’t have anything to vote on. That’s only about 1,400 voters out of nearly 300,000 voters in the county.
Election officials said advanced voting is stronger than in 2013, and mail-in-ballots are about the same.
Lehman said she hopes people make it a priority to vote in today’s local elections.
“These offices that are up and candidates that are on your ballot this election, they have direct control of your tax dollars, whether it’s the school district or your city or improvement district or drainage district,” she said. “These people do have a direct impact on your day-to-day life.”
KSN is your local election headquarters, and we will follow all the races in Kansas.
(WTNH) — Netflix has issued a warning to their customers about a new email scam targeting viewers.
The company says the scam is targeting 110 million Netflix customers. Users get an email that appears to come from Netflix with the subject line, “Your Suspension Notification”, and it tells users that Netflix needs them to update their billing information.
The link in the email takes victims to a fake website, where they are asked to enter their customer information, including credit card numbers.
Netflix customers can safely update their information through the Netflix website itself, and are advised to just delete an email that looks suspicious.
A winter weather advisory is in effect for NW Kansas and SW Nebraska till 1PM. A light wintry mix of sleet, freezing rain and a few snow flurries are possible in this area allowing for the potential for some slick roadways…
While any accumulations would be light even a slight glaze can create tricky driving conditions… A little light snow is possible across W Kansas and along the Kansas Colorado state line, but any accumulations would be very light and not really be a huge impact on your day.
Any light snow will taper off overnight and by tomorrow we should start to clear out as high pressure builds in… While it is not totally out of the question that Wichita could see a few flakes overnight the chances are very slim.
If you’ve been missing the sun then you are not alone… The good news is that the sun will return tomorrow, and although it will be chilly the winds will be light and with sunny skies, Wednesday will feel much better than today so hang in there!!
EUREKA, Kan. (KSNW) – A group of Eureka teens is now viral sensations thanks to their kind gesture.
Eureka is the epitome of small town Kansas.
“Everybody knows everybody in Eureka,” said junior Justin Zimmers.
The same goes for the town’s high school.
“I love them all to death. If there’s anything I would change about them, it’d be nothing,” said Kendall Beitz.
Beitz is a junior at Eureka Junior/Senior High School. He’s also part of the school’s FFA chapter. In late October, he and five other Eureka FFA students traveled to Indianapolis for the National FFA Convention.
After more than 12 hours on the road, the students decided to blow off some steam in their hotel rooms.
“We wanted to stretch our legs, kind of run around a little bit,” said sophomore Ethan Westerman. “We were just running around, banging doors, watching the world series, yelling at the TV about the world series, just being normal teenagers.”
The four boys and the two girls didn’t think much of their behavior. That was until a woman knocked on their door.
“She told us that they were having a hard time and she asked us to keep it down,” Zimmers said.
“I said I know you’re in town for the FFA convention and we want you to have fun while you’re here, but you were a little loud last night and you woke up my kids. I was just hoping you could be a little quieter tonight,” said Randi Amt.
Randi Amt, her husband and three kids were not just guests at the Indianapolis hotel. The family was living there after a toilet flooded their home. Amt described the situation to the Eureka kids.
“I was in shock because I never even thought somebody was living right next door that was having that sort of trouble,” Zimmers said.
“I felt this regret in what we had done. We didn’t have any idea what the situation that they were in,” said junior Tanner Wells.
That’s when Wells, the jokester of the group, came up with the idea to write an apology letter to the family and give them some money to help with their home and kids.
“I just thought we could do something for them that I think could change their day, brighten up their day a little bit,” Wells said.
“So we wrote the note, put the money in the note, slipped it under the door,” Zimmers said.
It wasn’t long after that, Amt wrote on social media about the ordeal. First, she asked if anyone knew where the students were from. Then, she thanked them for their kind gesture.
These young adults have a message that you ALL need to hear. Kindness matters. Make it a point to show kindness and compassion every day and this world will be a better place,” Amt said.
The students said they never imagined their apology note would gain the attention of people across the nation.
“None of us were expecting this. It’s just what we do on a daily basis. You get a thank you and you move on in life,” Westerman said.
“I was on top of the world. I was like yeah, I finally did something good for a change!” Beitz said.
“Made me feel pretty proud to be from Eureka and to know that I did something that impacted their lives in such a big way,” Wells said.
The two girls in the FFA group Bailey Harrison and Brooklyn Hilton were not in the hotel room when Amt asked the boys to quiet down. They said they were shocked to learn what the boys did.
“I was really shocked. I was like, ‘Are these our boys? They’re being responsible?” said Harrison.
“We were really proud of them for what they had done,” Hilton said.
Harrison and Hilton then took it upon themselves to pay it forward a second time to the Amt family. The pair offered up their seven of hearts playing card to the family. The card is meant to show someone they have made a difference or have had an impact in a person’s life. The girls said the Amt family showed bravery and strength by continuing to stay positive in a difficult situation.
“I think they just set such an example for being strong enough to do this for their kids,” Hilton said.
The Amt family used the $40 from the students to start a fund to help their city’s homeless population.
WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Millions of dedicated men and women have proudly served in the United States army for decades. One of them is a Wichita man, John Monk. But, John is far from typical. He was enlisted during not one, not two but, three wars. That’s why John is this week’s hometown hero.
So, where do you start to tell the amazing story of a hometown hero like John Monk. Well, you have to travel back to his humble beginnings as an African-American, growing up in a segregated Louisiana.
“Regardless, how you felt. If you wanted to be friend to a white person, white man or woman you couldn’t do it,” said Monk.
John credits his family for his strength amidst realities of an unjust world.
“My mother, god bless her soul. She taught us, you take it or you run, you take it or they will kill you or you have to run,” said Monk.
He ended up running to Kansas, a young man with only a 7th grade education eventually found himself in the segregated south in 1942 for basic training. It wasn’t pleasant.
“Doctor told me, don’t drink too much and don’t drink nothing cheap. I took his advice” – Sgt. John Monk
“They were mean, violent, they could do anything they wanted to you. They didn’t have no regulation back then. We’re trying to save this country and I’m down there they were kicking my ass, doing all these things to me. Well, I’m fighting for my family, fighting for a cause,” said Monk.
Amidst his suffering, John found the strength to become a leader.
“First of all, I can handle men. I’m big tall and ugly. I had a good voice,” said Monk.
John wanted to fight overseas, but, the Army believed he was more valuable stateside.
“I made my mind up, I said they treat me like that. They treat everybody like this. I said we’re fighting for the same cause. I said from there on I’m going to be the best soldier in the Army,” said Monk.
He was responsible for big weapon, anti-aircraft and infantry training. Also, hand to hand combat.
“Go to the bayonet training. Get the bayonet pull the cover off and you better know how to use that rifle,” said Monk.
His biggest task was in Tennessee, teaching African-Americans in the barrage balloon training center to take down Hitler’s planes.
“Send those balloons up, 25, 35, 55, 100 feet. If I had too, that’s what kept them out of there,” said Monk.
John says the balloons not only acted as a diversion, but could blow up fighter planes too.
“Because, we had a quick release attached to the bomb. They couldn’t see the cable. I pulled that balloon to the plane’s wing, and it blew the wing off,” said Monk.
After World War II, John was back state side with another tall task. As a First Sergeant Quartermaster, he earned his units respect by driving men behind enemy lines in Korea.
“That’s why I got along so good. I treated them right, treated them like they are supposed to be treated. I treated them like I wanted to be treated but I wasn’t,” said Monk.
After Korea, John was stationed in France, Virginia and, his final assignment Fort Riley, Kansas, training men for Vietnam.
“A lot of them didn’t come back. You’re sending them off to get slaughtered that it was coming into my mind,” said Monk.
The continual loss, including the deaths of two of his own children during birth, took a toll on John.
“I started crying, I couldn’t stop. Well, I don’t know why. They rushed me to the hospital. They said what you crying about? I don’t know,” said Monk.
After nearly 20 years fighting for our freedom, John’s war days are over. Now, he lives a much simpler, peaceful life. At 101 he follows a couple of simple rules. Crown Royal and cigars.
“Doctor told me, don’t drink too much and don’t drink nothing cheap. I took his advice,” said Monk.
The Army hero, a father, grandfather, great-grandfather, small business owner, even a farmer at one time, still celebrates the journey he gets to take everyday.
“I thank God for what he did for me. I didn’t have anything to work with. No regrets. I’m black poor and ugly. I didn’t have anything to work with. I didn’t know how I was going to make it. If i didn’t go in the Army, I don’t know what would have happened to me,” said Monk.
John will celebrate his 102nd birthday in January. If you have a Hometown Hero, we’d love to hear about them.
Just send your nominations to firstname.lastname@example.org. Your hero could be featured on KSN News at 10.
DENVER (AP) — The stepsister of a man charged with fatally shooting three people at a Colorado Walmart said he has been tormented by voices in his head since taking LSD nearly 30 years ago — an event she said radically changed his behavior and personality.
“When he came home, he was terrified. He had voices in his head. Demons,” Michelle Willoughby told The Denver Post in an interview posted online Monday.
Prosecutors filed multiple counts of first-degree murder and attempted-murder charges Monday against Scott Ostrem, 47, Willoughby’s stepbrother.
Ostrem is accused of walking into a Walmart in the Denver suburb of Thornton on Wednesday and fatally shooting a woman and two men. Prosecutors still have not offered any clues into possible reasons for the attack.
“Can’t talk about a motive yet, thanks,” Adams County District Attorney Dave Young said Monday.
Willoughby, who lives in Cocoa Beach, Florida, said she does not know what might have triggered the shooting because she has not been able to speak with Ostrem.
But she said he had been outgoing, sociable and athletic before taking LSD at a party in 1988, and afterward he became a recluse haunted by voices saying the devil was after him.
The family contacted a hospital, and Ostrem underwent a drug intervention but did not get psychological treatment, she said.
Ostrem was frequently counseled by a Catholic priest who placed a crucifix on his forehead, commanded demons to leave his body and asked God to silence the voices, Willoughby said.
She said the priest has since died and she does not recall his name.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse says the long-term effects of LSD and other hallucinogenic drugs can include mood disturbances, paranoia, disorganized thinking and hallucinations. But such effects are rare, the institute said on its website , and they are more likely to occur in people with a history of psychological problems.
Charles Grob, a psychiatry professor at UCLA, said it is unlikely that LSD would be the cause of a decadeslong psychosis. It was more likely that Ostrem had “some severe disturbance to begin with,” he said.
“I don’t think LSD is the right culprit,” Grob said.
Willoughby said she is bothered by the way Ostrem has been characterized on social media.
“My brother is not this monster,” she said. “He is not cold-blooded. He hears these voices. Honestly, in my heart, I believe there is only so much a person can take.”
Willoughby said she is heartbroken for the victims, Pamela Marques, 52, of Denver; Carlos Moreno, 66, of Thornton; and Victor Vasquez, 26, of Denver.
All were Latino, and Ostrem is white.
While declining to discuss a potential motive, Young said hate-crime charges have not been ruled out.
At the court hearing in Adams County District Court, Ostrem sat quietly, occasionally answering “yes” when the judge asked him a question.
He appeared thin, hunching forward slightly. He wore a yellow- and white-striped jail jumpsuit with “Adams County Jail” in large black letters on the back. His wrists and ankles were shackled.
Ostrem did not enter a plea. He is being held without bail.
The murder charges carry a sentence of life without parole or the death penalty. Young has not said whether he will seek the death penalty.
The attempted-murder charges carry a sentence of eight to 48 years.
The judge scheduled a Feb. 5 preliminary hearing for prosecutors to lay out their case. The judge will decide if the evidence is sufficient for a trial.
Associated Press writer Nicholas Riccardi and Dan Elliott contributed to this report.
WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – A Wichita father is dealing with tragedy after his 12-year-old son committed suicide.
It’s his wish that more parents know about the warning signs and what can be done to prevent this kind of tragedy.
“It is not something you want to find out,” says Jason Birmingham. “It does not make any sense. It really just doesn’t make any sense.”
It’s only been two days since Birmingham heard the devastating news his son, Kameron Williamson, only 12 years old, hanged himself.
“I do feel like it was something he tried to keep to himself,” says Birmingham.
In most pictures, Kameron is smiling or making a goofy face.
“He loved to go fishing. He liked the outdoors. He was just really happy and loving all the time. I never saw anything else out of him,” says Birmingham.
Birmingham says he got to see his son a few times a month.
He’s reflecting on those times together now more than ever.
“I wish there is more that I could have done and that I would have known,” says Birmingham.
He is looking for anything he may have missed.
Some sketches stick out in his mind.
“I noticed a few that mentioned the word ‘alone’ I seen that a few times in those drawings,” says Birmingham.
But he says Kameron brushed it off.
“He had assured me that that ‘this is what I draw,” says Birmingham.
Was it a problem at school, social media bullying? Jason says he’s not placing blame.
“This isn’t the time and that is not the thing to do. That is not the way to honor my son.”
Birmingham says all he can do now, is remember his son, and help other youth in the dark.
“If it was bullying, maybe becoming involved with some outreach groups or something. I am really thinking of some way of trying to bring something positive out of it.”
Birmingham is reaching out to his son’s school to talk with administrators to find out more about his son’s school experience.
KSN also reached out and the principal said they don’t know of any instances of Kameron being bullied.
COWLEY COUNTY, Kan. (KSNW) – Authorities in Cowley County have identified a man killed in a two-vehicle crash in Cowley County Saturday afternoon west of Arkansas City.
Cowley County Sheriff David Falletti said in a news release the crash occurred about 1:54 p.m. in the 2000 block of US Highway 166.
Falletti said 54-year-old Kevin Davis was traveling westbound on US 166 in a 2001 Chevrolet Tahoe when a 2016 Ford F150 pickup driven by a 70-year-old Haysville woman was headed eastbound and turned into the path of Davis’ truck. Davis attempted avoid the other truck and after colliding with it, his vehicle entered a ditch and began to roll. Davis was pronounced dead at the scene.
Two passengers in Davis’ truck were injured and taken to the South Central Kansas Medical Center i Arkansas City.
The driver of the truck that pulled in front of Davis’ vehicle was issued a citation for failure to yield the right of way.
PRATT, Kan. (KSNW) – The Pratt school district, USD 382, reports there will be no classes on Tuesday after the district received an email threat Monday.
Superintendent Suzan Patton said in a statement posted on the district’s website after the threat was received, the district immediately called the Pratt Police Department and set its emergency response plan in motion to notify parents, students and district employees.
Patton said the district is working with its email provider to determine the origin of the threat. She added, however, that will take time.
“With the information we had, administration determined that we need more time to determine the origins and nature of the threat,” Patton said. “To provide the necessary time to properly investigate, we are canceling tonight’s Scholars Bowl and canceling classes tomorrow to allow for a full and proper inspection of each of our buildings.”
Click here to view Superintendent Patton’s statement on the USD 382 website.
PEABODY, Kan. (KSNW) – Active shooter training is not the first thing on the mind of most pastors on any given day. But on Monday, some pastors are planning to get active shooter training in the wake of the Sutherland Springs, Texas shooting.
“We seem to think in small towns we are protected and we are kind of immune from the big-city crime, and it was just a shock that these things can happen anywhere nowadays,” says Angela DeFisher, pastor at the Peabody United Methodist Church. “You have to be smart and realize there are dangers wherever you are. So, lock your doors at night, take precautions if you’re out walking by yourself. I guess my motto has always been plan for the worst and hope for the best.”
DeFisher said her church doesn’t have security in place other than locking doors and having some other measures to secure the church. But after the shooting in Texas, she’s reaching out to learn more about safety.
“We haven’t really discussed it to this point but we will be. I was checking and found this morning that our conference offers something for some active shooter training,” says DeFisher. “I think church… should be a safe place. But the church is also open to the broken people of the world. We have to be open and give the love of Christ to them.”
A few miles away in the tiny town of Elbing, the pastor at Zion Mennonite Church says the small-town, small-church shooting in Texas hits home.
“It’s (church shooting) always a horrific notion, yet again, and this is a setting very close to what our own is. So we can somewhat envision this going on,” says Zion Mennonite Church Pastor, Ray Reimer. “We obviously aren’t hiring guards, anything like that. We don’t in any official way screen people as they come in. I know some larger churches do both of those. We do what a lot of trainers, homeland security and other folks do recommend for situations like this sort… just simply try to be aware of our surroundings, cognizant of who’s coming in.”
Reimer says, as a Mennonite congregation, Zion has a faith culture that is pacifist in nature.
“We don’t encourage people to bring weapons to our church, and as far as I know, no one does,” says Reimer. “This goes very immediately I think to some core theological values. We value life in this congregation and I think all people of faith do.”
Reimer says he will talk to his church leadership about an emergency plan but, realistically, weapons in church is not something he will advocate.
In Peabody, Defisher says they won’t be making drastic changes, but they will talk over the latest shooting to come up with an emergency plan.
“I’ll be talking this over, yes,” says DeFisher, “and coming up with a plan and practicing it probably at least once in the coming weeks and months to kind of have it fresh in our mind.”
ATLANTA (AP) — A two-decade-old federal law is supposed to prevent people with a history of domestic violence from buying or owning a firearm. So why didn’t Devin Kelley’s conviction prevent him purchasing weapons before he killed 26 parishioners at a Texas church?
The answer isn’t clear, but it may have to do with where his domestic violence case was handled: in a military court.
Kelley was found guilty of abusing his wife and her son and received a bad-conduct discharge from the Air Force. But it’s unclear if the Defense Department reported his conviction to the federal database that is used to conduct background checks on citizens looking to purchase a firearm.
The Lautenberg Amendment, enacted by Congress in 1996, was designed to prohibit people convicted of domestic violence from buying or possessing a firearm regardless of whether the crime was a felony or a misdemeanor.
“This is exactly the guy the Lautenberg Amendment is supposed to prevent from possessing a firearm,” said Rachel VanLandingham, a professor at Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles and a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel and former judge advocate. “I’m not sure how he was able to obtain his weapon. Of course, the law only works if folks are abiding by the law.”
Neither the Air Force nor the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives returned messages seeking information on what the military is required to report — and what reports, if any, were filed in Kelley’s case.
Local law enforcement said that Kelley did not have a permit to carry a firearm in Texas. However, a license to carry is not required to buy a gun in the state.
Kelley served at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico from 2010 until his discharge in 2014. He was in logistics, responsible for moving passengers and cargo. He served 12 months’ confinement after his 2012 court-martial.
Law enforcement authorities said Monday that Kelley owned four guns, including the three he had with him: a Ruger AR-15 that was used in the church and two handguns that were in his car. The weapons were purchased — one each year — from 2014 to this year.
Some experts said the military is required to report only criminal cases that result in dishonorable discharges into the database, while others said any military conviction for domestic violence should be reported.
A 2015 report by the Pentagon’s inspector general found lapses in the military’s reporting to civilian authorities of domestic violence convictions.
Robert Spitzer, chairman of political science at the State University of New York at Cortland and an expert on firearms and Second Amendment issues, said it appears Kelley was able to avoid being flagged when he bought his guns because he received a bad-conduct discharge and not a dishonorable one.
“This apparently is why he cleared the background check. That certainly poses a problem,” Spitzer said.
From Nov. 30, 1998, until last week, firearms purchases in the U.S. were denied 136,502 times because of a domestic violence conviction, according to Justice Department statistics.
“The fact this guy was even court-martialed at all indicates it reached a certain level of severity that should act as a red flag that this is a dangerous person and shouldn’t have a gun,” said Lindsay Nichols, the federal policy director at the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, named after former Rep. Gabby Giffords, who was gravely wounded by a gunman in 2011.
A Winter Weather Advisory goes into effect overnight and through Tuesday morning. This is targeted for NW Kansas and SW Nebraska.
I’m expecting not only light snowfall accumulations, but also the possibility of freezing drizzle that could complicate your early Tuesday morning drive in NW Kansas and SW Nebraska. Please drive slowly! As for this moisture stretching into central Kansas…we could see a few light rain showers Tuesday afternoon, but temps should be warm enough that there won’t be too much of an issue.
And once again today, the clouds favored us and will continue to do so for a little longer this week.
These clouds have impacted our temperatures today, keeping us well below normal for this time of year.
Coming up tonight on KSN News at 5, 6 and 10, we’ll take a look at how much snow could fall in parts of the state before temps FINALLY start to warm. – Chief Meteorologist Lisa Teachman