Authorities investigating the shooting death of a girl after a police chase said Saturday that they had found no evidence she was killed by gunfire from police.
The investigation into the shootout with a 30-year-old man and the death of Cadence Harris, 5, is “nowhere near concluded,” said Mark Malick, special agent in charge of the Kansas Bureau of Investigation.
The man, who was wounded by police, was taken to a Kansas City hospital where he was treated for injuries considered serious but not life-threatening, said Patrick Kitchens, Leavenworth police chief.
The incident began Friday night with a reported abduction in Atchison, Kan., and ended at a construction site in Leavenworth.
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“It is a fairly complicated investigation,” Kitchens said. “There is a lot of information we are trying to sort through.”
Although police said Cadence was from Leavenworth, members of the man’s family said the girl and her mother lived with the man and his grandparents in Atchison.
Court records show that the man had spent time in prison and had an active warrant for his arrest after missing an Atchison County court hearing Thursday in a domestic violence case. That case involved Cadence’s mother as the victim, court records indicate.
The man’s grandmother Norma Campbell said Saturday that the incident was not a kidnapping. She said her grandson was not the child’s biological father, but he had an on-again, off-again relationship with the girl’s mother and was like a father to the girl.
She said her grandson was on medication for a mental condition.
“He had problems,” she said. “But he loved her.”
Campbell said she didn’t know exactly how the incident started Friday night at the house in Atchison, but at some point Cadence’s mother left to call police. That’s when Campbell’s grandson left with the girl.
“He didn’t kidnap her,” Campbell said. “She lived here with us. She was like a granddaughter to me.”
Kitchens confirmed that the incident started in Atchison. He said there was an initial attempt to stop the man, but he eluded police.
After police made a second attempt to stop him, Platte County authorities notified Leavenworth police about 7:30 p.m. Friday that they were in a high-speed pursuit of a man suspected of abducting a child.
The chase crossed the Missouri River into Leavenworth, where it ended near 20th Street and Metropolitan Avenue.
Kitchens said that Leavenworth officers were involved in the chase for only about five minutes. He said speeds reached an estimated 80 to 90 mph.
The police chief said the man got out of the car and exchanged gunfire with two Leavenworth officers. Kitchens said Friday night that authorities thought the man fired the shot that killed the girl, but Kitchens said Saturday that was still being investigated. Video cameras from police cars captured part of the incident.
The Kansas Bureau of Investigation is involved in the investigation with Leavenworth and Atchison police. Prosecutors were working Saturday to determine what charges will be filed.
Malick said an autopsy on the girl was being conducted.