Police seeking man suspected of shooting student inside Kansas City restaurant
Marlin Mack, a suspect seen on surveillance video moments before the off-campus shooting death of a UMKC graduate student, was identified Monday as the gunman killed in a firefight with Kansas City police after wounding three of their officers.
Mack, 25, died Sunday in a shootout with police at a home in the 2900 block of Topping Avenue after shooting three officers in two separate gun battles about an hour apart, Kansas City Police Chief Rick Smith said at a press conference Monday.
The officers are expected to recover. One officer is expected to be released from the hospital today; two others remained in stable condition, Smith said.
“The officers of this department did an outstanding job,” Smith said. “This is a big deal for us. In many years, we have not had an officer shot and to get three people shot in one day is a pretty tragic event.”
Smith wrote in his public police chief blog how appreciative his department is for the community’s support in the aftermath of the shooting.
“We were frankly a little taken aback by all the notes of thanks and support that have come in on social media and by phone,” he said. “That support means the world not only to the officers who are recovering, but to everyone on this department.”
A team of police chaplains was dispatched to the hospital immediately after the shootings and prayed with the wounded officers. When a chaplain who arrived at the hospital learned that two of the wounded officers are Catholic, a priest was summoned. Other clergy were sent to each of the police department’s patrol stations as well as to the police lodge that served as a gathering spot for off-duty officers.
Aided by 40 tips, police had spent a week searching for a man they said was a person of interest in the killing of Sharath Koppu, who was shot during a robbery at J’s Fish and Chicken Market at 5412 Prospect Ave. where he worked.
Ten of those tips specifically identified Mack as the man seen in the surveillance video, Smith said at the press conference.
“Out of all of this tragedy some really good things happened, starting with the tipsters that called in and want to engage with the police department and try to bring this terrible, horrific crime to an end,” he said.
On Sunday, a crew of undercover detectives and tactical response officers found Mack holed up in the Sky Vu Motel on U.S. 40 in east Kansas City, police said.
Shortly before noon, Mack allegedly traded gunfire with the officers, injuring two undercover detectives. He and an accomplice escaped. The accomplice was arrested a short time later but the suspect fled to a residence at 30th Street and Topping Avenue, roughly two miles away.
The gun battle at the motel set off a flurry of police activity. Police descended upon the neighborhoods near the Police Department’s former East Patrol Division on Van Brunt Boulevard.
Officers who were not on duty rushed to the scene, without being called, Smith wrote in his blog.
“Some of them just put on their uniforms and showed up to help in any way they could,” he wrote.
Heavily armed tactical officers, an armored car and countless police cruisers quickly swarmed the area as police helicopters hovered overhead. Law enforcement officers from the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office as well as agents from the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives responded to the scene and offered assistance.
Teams of officers were dispatched to search for the suspect. The congregants worshiping inside nearby churches were instructed to either quickly vacate the buildings or take refuge in safe locations inside.
Within an hour another firefight between Mack and police broke out and a third officer was shot.
Smith said Mack used a “semi-automatic, high-powered rifle,” to trade gunfire with arriving officers, undercover detectives and tactical response officers.
He declined to provide specifics on how the incident unfolded Sunday because the wounded officers have not given statements to investigators.
“I don’t want to taint what is going to be their statement to our investigative file,” Smith said. “So I can’t get into too much detail. I apologize about that. I would very much like for all of the public to know but our oath is to this investigation and to the integrity to this investigation. So I can’t taint that.”
The department is hopeful the community’s support continues in the days ahead, Smith wrote in his blog.
“The terror of what happened will not stop for these officers after they leave the hospital,” Smith said. “They are husbands, fathers, sons and brothers, and their families have undergone trauma, as well.”