Lawrence shooting victims’ families await arrests as they prepare for funerals

Over the next several days, families of the three people shot in the street in Lawrence, Kan., will gather at funerals, while waiting on arrests that they hope police can make soon.

Police have asked for help, knowing there were at least 100 witnesses in the area near 11th Street and Massachusetts Street around 1:40 a.m. Sunday when the gunfire began to rip into the crowd.

Leah Elizabeth Brown, 22, of Shawnee, Tre’Mel Dupree Dean, 24, of Topeka and Colwin Lynn Henderson III, 20, of Topeka died from gunshot wounds.

“I don’t want vengeance — don’t want people taking matters into their own hands,” Henderson’s brother, Jordan Henderson, 18, said Thursday. “I want people to let the police do their job. …Two other families were hurt in this. I really want them (the shooters) to get caught.”

Lawrence police Thursday said the department has been receiving useful tips, following up on the department’s public request for assistance Monday.

The tips have included cell phone videos, Lawrence Police Capt. Trent McKinley said in an email to The Star.

Family of the victims said police have assured them investigators are vigorously pursuing information to make arrests.

“We haven’t heard anything (on details of the investigation), but they are telling us they are working very hard,” said Henderson’s aunt, Dallas Ratliff. “We feel pretty confident they are going to catch who did this.”

What police have said is that they believe the shooting followed an altercation at the northwest corner of 11th and Massachusetts that started soon before the gunfire began. It was not an act of random violence, but the shooting that followed struck innocent bystanders, Interim Police Chief Anthony Brixius said.

In addition to the three murdered, two people were wounded and treated in a hospital.

Police and witnesses near the scene reported hearing at least 20 shots that seemed to last several minutes. The crowds of people were ducking into doorways or running down the street to flee the gunfire, several witnesses said.

“We are always looking to gather as much information as possible in these types of crimes,” McKinley said, “so we are still asking that individuals who were present contact us. Some may hesitate to do so, assuming we already have certain pieces of information, however we hope to overcome that assumption.”

The line at a visitation for Brown Thursday at Queen of the Holy Rosary in Overland Park extended from the front of the church, down its steps, and wrapped around the driveway into the parking lot.

At least one hundred people at a time waited outside to pay tribute to Brown.

The line moved slowly, and the atmosphere was a mix of muted sadness and nervous anticipation as people waited their turn to enter the church.

Some struck accord with strangers, while others remained in the comforting presence of loved ones.

Once inside, teary-eyed children and grief-stricken adults joined immaculately-dressed teenagers and young adults in honoring Brown.

The visitation was a solemn occasion to remember a young woman described as athletic and ambitious.

A funeral mass for Brown will be held at the church Friday at 10 a.m.

Services for Tre’Mel Dean will begin with visitation Tuesday at 10 a.m., with services following at 11 a.m., both at Peaceful Rest Funeral Chapel, 401 SW Harrison Street in Topeka.

Visitation for Henderson will be at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Peaceful Rest Funeral Chapel, and services will be Wednesday at 11 a.m. at Love Fellowship Church, 2636 SE Minnesota Ave., in Topeka.

Police urge those with information to call Lawrence police at 785-832-7509 or Crime Stoppers of Lawrence and Douglas County at 785-843-TIPS (8477).

The Star’s Toriano Porter contributed to this report.

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