Independence Police Officer Tom Wagstaff, who was shot in the head while responding to a home robbery, remained in critical condition Tuesday but has shown signs of a slow recovery, according to Police Chief Brad Halsey.
“There have been optimistic signs today but he still has a long road ahead. Your prayers for him are still needed,” Halsey said in a statement posted to the Independence Police Department’s Facebook page.
Wagstaff, a 15-year veteran officer, suffered a head wound Wednesday during the home invasion robbery in the 3600 block of South Delaware Avenue.
Jackson County prosecutors have charged four men in connection with the home invasion that led to the shooting. They each remained custody in the Jackson County Detention Center in lieu of $500,000 bonds each.
On Tuesday, Halsey said the Police Department has maintained their resolve during following the incident.
“We want the public to know that although this has been difficult, the men and women of the Independence Police Department have not wavered in protecting and serving this community and accomplishing our police mission,” Halsey said.
Prosecutors charged Ronar Santiago-Torres, 27, and Joseph E. Wyatt, 28, with robbery, burglary, kidnapping, armed criminal action and assault, accusing them of being the two home invaders. Police arrested them after a chase.
They also charged Donald E. Nussbaum, 51, and James McChan, 56, with the same counts except the assault charge. They allegedly took Wyatt and Santiago-Torres to commit the crime.
All four reside in Kansas City, according to court documents. At least three of the men have lived in Independence, including Nussbaum, whose mother called police after seeing the crime on a video feed.
According to court documents, Santiago-Torres and Wyatt forced their way into the house, tied up the homeowner and beat him while trying to gain access to a safe. Police interrupted the robbery. Santiago-Torres and Wyatt allegedly fled in the victim’s SUV by driving out his closed garage door; police arrested them after a chase.
Before the SUV broke through that door, officers outside the home fired toward it. An officer fell to the pavement, and others pulled him to safety, according to what the 911 caller told a television station. The caller, a woman, said she had turned on her TV to check on her boyfriend through his home surveillance system and saw two men in bandanas and stocking caps beating him.
Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker has said it was possible Wagstaff, 42, was hit accidentally by another officer’s bullet. Kansas City police are investigating the robbery and the shooting on behalf of Independence police.
Since the shooting, Wagstaff and his family have received an outpouring of community support. Several organizations, including the Independence police union, are raising money for the Wagstaff family. His church activated a prayer chain after receiving word about the shooting.
“We remain committed to serving with pride,” Halsey said in the Facebook message. “We were strong before this incident and as a result of the amazing support from our community and our amazing IPD family we will no doubt be stronger from this point forward.”