Students hold candlelight vigil for 17-year-old John Albers
An investigation continued Sunday after a police officer shot and killed a 17-year-old Blue Valley Northwest High School student in a car Saturday night at an Overland Park home.
The shooting occurred at a house in the 9300 block of West 149th Terrace, where police said officers had gone to check on a person who was reportedly suicidal.
As officers approached the house, a garage door opened and a vehicle drove out toward one of the officers, according to a statement from the Overland Park Police Department. An officer shot the driver, killing him.
Police identifed the driver as John Albers, 17. He was a junior at Blue Valley Northwest, according to Kaci Brutto, a spokeswoman for the Blue Valley School District. His mother is the principal of Harmony Middle School.
Family members on Sunday declined to speak with a reporter but released a written statement.
“We are heartbroken at the loss of our beloved son, John,” the statement read. “We truly appreciate the outpouring of support from friends, family and community. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers and for respecting our privacy during this very difficult time.”
A large crowd of mourners — mostly students — gathered Sunday night in the playground area of Sunset Ridge Elementary School in Overland Park.
Many laid candles onto a bench in the center of the playground, with dozens of flames flickering in a moist, spring-like breeze. Music played from a stereo and the youth stood in groups, often sharing hugs and tears.
The shooting is being investigated by the Johnson County Officer-Involved Shooting Team.
On Sunday morning, Overland Park police officers remained in front of Albers’ home, where the shooting occurred. The house was surrounded by yellow crime scene tape, with what appeared to be broken glass scattered in the driveway.
A yard sign promoting the Blue Valley Northwest High School wrestling and track teams stood in the front yard.
Along the street, neighbors gathered to talk among themselves, mostly reluctant to speak with reporters.
By Sunday afternoon, dozens of friends and family members had posted messages on social media mourning Albers.
Neighbors said one resident heard the gunshots but didn’t recognize the sound at the time. The neighborhood is situated among well-manicured suburban subdivisions in southern Overland Park. The home is about three miles south of Blue Valley Northwest.
On Saturday night, amid a heavy police presence at England Street and West 149th Terrace, where part of the neighborhood was taped off, Overland Park Police Capt. Keith Jenkins said officers had been sent to check on someone who was reportedly attempting to harm himself.
“As the responding officers approached the residence to make contact, the garage door opened and a vehicle exited the garage, moving rapidly toward one of the responding officers,” said a written statement from Overland Park police spokesman John Lacy. “The officer discharged his service weapon striking the male driver. The driver died at the scene.”
The shots were fired by one officer, who was not injured, police said. Investigators at the scene Saturday night used at least nine small orange cones to mark pieces of evidence along the edge of the street.
The officer will be on administrative leave, as is standard procedure in such cases.
“The officer is fine,” Jenkins, the police captain, said Saturday night. “Very shook up, as you can imagine. Anytime this happens, officers are very upset that it had to happen.”
The Johnson County District Attorney’s Office is expected to review the case once the investigation is complete.
Anyone who witnessed the shooting or has information is asked to call the Overland Park Police Department at 913-895-6300 or the TIPS Hotline at 816-474-8477.