A Kansas City, Kan., police detective died after being shot Monday near the Kansas Speedway, allegedly by a recent parolee who also is accused of carjacking two vehicles and shooting a driver in Missouri before police shot and captured him.
The alleged shooter, identified by police as Curtis R. Ayers, 28, of Tonganoxie, was reported in stable condition after he was shot by Kansas City police about 2:35 p.m. Monday near Bannister Road and Bruce R. Watkins Drive.
A woman whom Ayers allegedly shot in the shoulder there was expected to survive, police said.
The detective, Brad Lancaster, 39, was a nine-year veteran of the Kansas City, Kan., Police Department.
“Our detective fought a good fight, but unfortunately he died from his injuries at approximately 3:30 p.m.,” Kansas City, Kan., Police Chief Terry Zeigler said in a tweet. “Thanks for the support & prayers.”
Lancaster was married with two daughters.
“We are a small family, but we are strong,” said his mother, Carolynn Lancaster. “He was the rock of the family.”
It was the first death of a Kansas City, Kan., police officer in the line of duty since 1998, when Sgt. Richard James Asten was hit by a stolen vehicle while attempting to deploy a device to puncture its tires.
The last Kansas City area officer to die in the line of duty was Riverside police Master Patrolman Jefferson Taylor, who was struck by lightning on May 23, 2011, while assisting in Joplin, Mo., the day after its devastating tornado. He died on June 3, 2011.
Kansas City, Kan., Mayor Mark Holland posted a message on Facebook: “This detective demonstrated ... bravery, and his sworn commitment to keeping us safe, when he attempted to stop a carjacking near Kansas Speedway earlier this afternoon. He stood in harm’s way to do his job and lost his life in the process.
“Many family members, friends and officers are grieving his death. My heart and my prayers go out to them.”
For Ayers, the string of events began Monday morning when he asked a Tonganoxie friend for a ride to Hollywood Casino in Kansas City, Kan., and gave the friend $10.
“I needed some gas money to get my sister to her doctors anyway,” said Khris Ayers, 24, and no relation to Curtis Ayers. “I said, ‘Sure I’ll take you.’ … Nothing on the car ride there could have told me that this was going down.”
Khris Ayers said he didn’t know that Curtis Ayers had a handgun until just before he got out of the car. That’s when Curtis Ayers tucked the handgun into his back waistband and said, “I’ll hit you up later.”
About 12:15 p.m., police in Kansas City, Kan., were asked to check on a suspicious man near 110th Street and Village West Parkway. When officers tried to stop the man, he ran north across a large grass field toward the speedway.
Lancaster, who was in the area, was in his unmarked car along an outer road south of the speedway.
In an exchange of gunfire, Lancaster was shot several times, said Officer Patrick McCallop, a Kansas City, Kan., police spokesman. The gunman took the detective’s car and fled.
Minutes later, he abandoned the police car near 118th Street and State Avenue, and carjacked a gold Toyota Camry with two children inside. That car was abandoned in Basehor, about 9 miles to the west. The children were unharmed.
About 1:05 p.m., police reported that the carjacker had taken a silver Ford Focus at gunpoint in Basehor. A witness described the carjacker as blood-covered.
At 2:09 p.m., Zeigler tweeted a brief update on the detective: “Officer in surgery. Please pray for him and his family!”
Numerous local and federal officers were mobilized to find Ayers. Many officers swarmed a Tonganoxie neighborhood where Ayers is thought to have lived with his mother in a small rented home.
According to Kansas City, Mo., police, just after 2:30 p.m., officers in southeast Kansas City saw a vehicle that matched the description of the car reportedly stolen in Basehor.
Kansas City officers began pursuing the car heading south on Bruce R. Watkins Drive. As the vehicle left the highway onto Bannister Road, the driver lost control and hit a concrete bridge post. The driver jumped out and ran up a hill back to Watkins Drive. The man tried to carjack a vehicle that was going north on the highway. He shot the driver, but she was able to drive away.
The man then ran back to the highway shoulder, where he was shot by a Kansas City officer.
The Watkins Drive victim and Ayers were taken to a hospital with injuries that were not considered life-threatening.
According to Kansas Department of Corrections records, Ayers was released on parole in early January. He had served time in prison after being convicted in Leavenworth County on charges of child abandonment, fleeing a police officer and interference with a law enforcement officer. He was previously prosecuted in Leavenworth County for domestic battery and making a terroristic threat, according to court records.
At Khris Ayers’ residence along Chieftain Road in Tonganoxie, authorities waited hours Monday afternoon for a search warrant to seize a black backpack that Curtis Ayers had left in Khris Ayers’ car.
Another friend, David Howard, 30, said he had worked for several years with Curtis Ayers at a diner and a tree-trimming service. He said that after Ayers was released from prison “he went downhill.”
“If you had problems, he would talk you through it,” Howard said. “I didn’t think he was all that crazy.”
Before Ayers’ capture, authorities thought he might be in his mother’s home on South Village Street in Tonganoxie.
“There’s a reason we live out here,” said Amy Taylor, one of the neighbors. “So we don’t have to be around this kind of (stuff).”
As neighbors gathered waiting for news, a plain-clothes officer approached.
“Did you guys know it’s all good?” the cop said. “We got him.”
One lady hollered: “Did you kill him?”
“No,” the cop said. “He’s shot up.”