A Brookside attorney was sitting on his front porch on Wednesday morning when he was shot to death, Kansas City police said.
Just after 8 a.m. police were summoned to the 200 block of West 66th Terrace, which is just east of Brookside and Wornall roads, on a shooting.
“It appears that our victim was sitting on his front porch of his residence when he was shot. The victim’s spouse heard something and came out and discovered her spouse on the ground,” said police spokeswoman Sgt. Kari Thompson.
The shooting is not thought to have been random.
Friends identified him as 39-year-old Tom Pickert, an attorney for the firm Fowler Pickert Eisenmenger LLC in Kansas City. Ryan Fowler, one of Pickert’s law partners, declined to comment.
Pickert had just walked his two sons to school nearby. The shooter may have walked up to him and shot him at close range. A car was heard speeding away immediately after the shooting.
Pickert was a personal injury attorney who focused on medical malpractice, nursing home and long-term care abuse cases, according to his biography on his firm’s website.
Pickert won a $5.75 million judgment this summer against a businessman who had shot a homeless man on his property. Last week, Jackson County court officials started the process of seizing the man’s real estate to pay the judgment. The court filed paperwork that would prevent the man from selling or transferring the property.
On Tuesday, the court sent the man’s attorney notice of its actions.
The real estate to be seized for the judgment were the man’s business building and a home.
Police on Wednesday were still at that man’s Kansas City business and suburban home at 7:30 p.m. Two police cars were at the business. The man’s attorney was also there. He declined to comment to a Star reporter.
The lawsuit stemmed from a 3 a.m. shooting on the man’s warehouse property in 2012. A homeless man tripped an alarm on the property and the owner responded. He shot the man, causing him to have his leg amputated, according to a story in Missouri Lawyers Weekly.
During his closing argument in the case, Pickert gave an emotional argument for a jury verdict against the 79-year-old man for the shooting, reported Jessica Shumaker for the legal publication.
“A verdict for (the man) is giving him and others like him permission to take the law into their own hands, to be judge, jury and executioner,” Pickert said, according to the story. “That’s not the way our society works.”
Soon after Pickert was found dead Wednesday morning, police began looking for a white 1997 Chevrolet van with Missouri license 6FA 453. By late afternoon, police found the van — unoccupied. Police said they would not immediately release more details about finding the van.
Pickert’s wife is a physician.
“We learned earlier today that the husband of a physician at The University of Kansas Health System was killed as the result of a violent crime,” Jill Chadwick, Health System spokeswoman. “We are a family at The University of Kansas Health System, and we are stunned and saddened. Right now our thoughts are with this doctor, her family, and all those close to her. We offer our support for our co-worker and her family today and in the days and weeks ahead.”
David Morantz, who attended law school with Pickert at the University of Kansas and worked on the law review with him, described Pickert as “a bright and thoughtful guy.”
The two were active with the Kansas Trial Lawyers Association and also faced each other in the courtroom, Morantz said.
“He was extremely well-liked, everyone respected him. He was always thoughtful, always engaging and always had a smile on his face,” he said. “He was very pleasant to talk with and I am going to miss him.”
Pickert studied philosophy and French at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
He was an endurance athlete, according to his firm’s website. He ran marathons, completely several in less than 3 hours, and qualified to compete in two Ironman World Championships.
Police were canvassing the neighborhood.
“We’re hoping to get to the bottom of this and solve this case as we hope to solve every case,” Thompson said. “We need help. We can’t solve this alone.”
The death is one of three homicides reported in Kansas City in the past 24 hours.