Area law enforcement officers were up early Saturday morning smoking brisket to support Independence Police Officer Thomas Wagstaff, who was shot on duty this spring.
Seven law enforcement agencies were represented in a barbeque competition Saturday to raise money for Wagstaff’s recovery. A silent auction, music and dinner were also planned in an evening that was scheduled to run until 11 p.m. in Harrisonville.
“We’re all brothers,” said Sgt. Mike Clark of the Belton Police Department. “You gotta stick up for each other.” Clark’s team had started smoking brisket and pork butt at 3 a.m., he said.
Wagstaff was shot in the head while responding to a home invasion robbery March 29. The next day, Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said it was “possible” Wagstaff had accidentally been shot by one of his fellow officers.
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Wagstaff was released from a hospital into long-term care on April 14.
“Tom works hard every day,” Independence Police Chief Brad Halsey said. “He has a long road ahead of him.”
Four suspects have been charged in relation to the crime: Ronar Santiago-Torres, 27, Joseph E. Wyatt, 28, Donald E. Nussbaum, 51, and James McChan, 56.
Saturday’s barbeque was not the first fundraiser for Wagstaff. Blue Springs Police Officer Keegan Hughes ran a marathon in April, raising more than $14,000 for Wagstaff and his family.
A GoFundMe.com page has been set up to pay for “long-term care costs and lost wages that don’t get covered” by the police department or other social services. More than $33,000 had been raised by Saturday evening.
“Our community rallies behind law enforcement and first responders,” Halsey said Saturday. “It’s been like that since day one.”