Wyandotte County prosecutors on Wednesday charged a Tonganoxie, Kan., man with capital murder in the fatal shooting of a Kansas City, Kan., police detective.
If convicted, Curtis Rand Ayers potentially faces the death penalty in the killing of Brad Lancaster.
Wyandotte County District Attorney Jerome Gorman said Wednesday that a decision on whether to seek a death sentence for Ayers had not been made. The only other option for capital murder is life in prison with no parole.
Never miss a local story.
“We will make that decision after we receive all of the evidence and discuss it with the family,” Gorman said.
Lancaster, a 39-year-old father of two girls, was shot just after noon Monday near Kansas Speedway. He died Monday at a hospital.
Ayers, 28, was arrested later Monday and taken to a hospital after he was shot by a Kansas City police officer at Bannister Road and Bruce R. Watkins Drive.
He remained hospitalized Wednesday.
In addition to the murder charge, Ayers was charged Wednesday in Wyandotte County District Court with aggravated battery and two counts each of aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary and kidnapping.
Ayers is a convicted felon who was paroled from a Kansas prison in January. He was also charged Wednesday with being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Bond for Ayers was set at $10 million.
“I haven’t seen anything yet that would explain a possible motive,” Gorman said.
In addition, charges against Ayers were filed Wednesday in Leavenworth County, where he allegedly stole a car.
All of the charges stem from a crime spree that began early Monday afternoon when someone reported that Ayers was loitering in the parking lot of the Hollywood Casino at Kansas Speedway, according to a spokesman for the Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission.
When security officials spoke with Ayers, he was cooperative and gave them his name and date of birth, said spokesman Fred Waller.
They told him to leave the property and told him that if he returned he could be arrested for trespassing, Waller said.
Authorities gave this account of the subsequent events:
After Ayers left, security called Kansas City, Kan., police.
Police said they were called to the area to check on a suspicious person.
Lancaster was in the area of the casino when Kansas City, Kan., police responded to the call. When officers tried to talk to Ayers, he allegedly ran from officers.
Lancaster tried to help when he was shot multiple times.
Ayers allegedly fled in the detective’s unmarked police car before he got in a wreck with another vehicle near 118th Street and State Avenue.
There, he allegedly carjacked another vehicle with two small children in the back seat. The children’s mother suffered a serious arm injury while trying to stop him.
That car was later driven into an open garage attached to a home in Basehor in Leavenworth County. The children were unharmed.
Ayers allegedly confronted the homeowner inside and stole his car at gunpoint.
On Wednesday, Leavenworth County prosecutors charged Ayers with aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary and criminal possession of a firearm.
Ayers was driving the car stolen in Basehor about 2:30 p.m. Monday on Bruce R. Watkins Drive when Kansas City police spotted it and began a pursuit.
After exiting at Bannister Road, Ayers crashed into a bridge pillar.
He then ran up an embankment to Watkins Drive, where he allegedly shot a woman while trying to steal her car. The woman’s injuries were not life-threatening, and she also remained hospitalized Wednesday, police said.
A shot was fired into another driver’s vehicle, but he was not hit. Ayers was taken into custody after he was shot by a Kansas City officer.
The 68-year-old woman who was wounded told police that she was stopped in traffic on Bruce R. Watkins when a man walked up and yelled for her to get out of her car. She said she didn’t have time to react before he shot her.
The woman suffered pellet wounds to her shoulder, arm, head and neck, according to a police report.
A Kansas City officer and a Lee’s Summit paramedic who witnessed the incident performed first aid on the woman until an ambulance crew arrived.
On Tuesday, Jackson County prosecutors charged Ayers with multiple felonies as a result of the Bannister Road incident.
He is charged in Jackson County with first-degree assault, resisting arrest and two counts each of unlawful discharge of a firearm and armed criminal action. His bond in Jackson County is set at $250,000.
Gorman said Wednesday that he was in contact with Jackson County prosecutors and he was hopeful that his office would be able to pursue its case first.
“We will begin the extradition process immediately,” he said.
The district attorney said police are still investigating and following up leads. They are particularly interested in learning Ayers’ whereabouts between the time the Basehor man was robbed and when Ayers was stopped by police in Kansas City.
He was armed with a handgun when Lancaster was shot, but he had a shotgun when the woman was shot in Kansas City. Police are trying to determine when he obtained that shotgun, which he didn’t have with him at the speedway shooting scene.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Tips Hotline at 816-474-8477.
The Star’s Ian Cummings contributed to this report.