Crime

Tragedy strikes KCK law enforcement again: two sheriff's deputies slain in shooting

Law enforcement is in mourning again in Kansas City, Kan., after two Wyandotte County Sheriff's deputies were slain from a shooting as they transported an inmate Friday morning.

Patrick Rohrer, 35, died from his injuries after he was taken to the University of Kansas Hospital soon after police were called to a shooting incident at the Wyandotte County Correctional and Court Services building in downtown Kansas City, Kan. He had seven years of service in law enforcement.

Theresa King, 44, had been listed in critical condition at the same hospital for much of Friday after she was shot. But shortly after midnight, she also died from her injuries, the Kansas City, Kan., Police Department announced overnight. King had 13 years of service.

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Wyandotte County Sheriff’s deputies Patrick Rohrer and Theresa King were killed in the line of duty June 15. Wyandotte County Sheriff's Office

Officials said an investigation is ongoing, but they believe that an inmate who was being transported from the jail across the street may have shot the deputies with one of their own weapons.

"When they pulled into the parking lot ready to transport these inmates, they (the deputies) were overcome," said Wyandotte County Sheriff's spokeswoman Kelli Bailiff during an afternoon news conference at KU Hospital. "It is very possible that with their own firearm they were shot."

The inmate also was shot and transported to the hospital. Neither his name nor his condition were disclosed.

Sources told The Star that the suspect was Antoine Fielder, a 30-year-old with a long history of alleged criminal behavior. No charges have been filed in Friday's shooting.

Kansas City, Kan., police officer T.J. Tomasic said he could not confirm or deny that Fielder was the suspect.

Fielder was scheduled for a hearing at the Wyandotte County Correctional and Court Services building on Friday morning, according to the Wyandotte County online jail records. He was being held on several criminal charges and has also been charged with murder in Jackson County in a separate case.

Fielder was twice brought to trial on charges related to the 2015 killing of an Overland Park woman, but went free after two juries could not reach a unanimous verdict.

Friday marked the fourth time in the last three years a law enforcement official in Wyandotte County was shot. In 2016 alone, two Kansas City, Kan., policemen were killed in the line of duty.

David Alvey, mayor of the Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, Kan., called Friday "a tragic day."

"All I really want to say is to thank officers and emergency personnel who put their lives on the line each day," Alvey told The Star. "And we should all be very grateful and respectful of those individuals and their families."

No other suspects

The shooting happened in a gated portion of a back parking lot of the court services building, which is immediately north of the Wyandotte County Courthouse. The building, which used to be the federal courthouse in KCK, is used for juvenile courts, community corrections and has two criminal courtrooms.

Terry Zeigler, chief of the Kansas City, Kan., Police Department, said the inmate was being transported from the jail, which is across the street to the south of the court services building.

A van that the deputies had used to transport the inmate had backed into an entrance in the court services building when the shooting occurred.

"We do believe it was in the parking lot," Bailiff said. "But they had not entered the courthouse."

Zac Blair, a Kansas City, Kan., police spokesman, said investigators were not looking for any other suspects.

"This incident is contained at those three people and we are not looking for any other suspects," Blair said.

Standard protocol for transporting inmates from the jail usually involves two deputies, Bailiff said Friday. Deputies pick up inmates, most of whom are handcuffed and shackled as they enter a transport van, and drive them across the street and into a parking lot at the court services building.

The van then enters a secured gated area and inmates come off the van and go into the courthouse.

Police were scouring the scene Friday afternoon for clues, which might show up on video recordings.

"There are witnesses we are speaking with," Blair said. "This is a courthouse building, there is video. We will be looking at that video."

'I was in a panic'

John Garcia, who was at the court services building when the shooting started, described a frightening situation for people attending court hearings on Friday.

Garcia said he was just leaving the building after a custody hearing when he heard the sound of shots being fired. He said he and a few other people were quickly herded back into the building and into a courtroom.

He looked out the window and saw three people on the ground with what looked like gunshot wounds in a parking lot behind the building.

"I was in a panic," Garcia said. "My stomach was in knots.

"They were there at the courthouse, you know, you're at one of the safest places where you can be. And, you know, this occurred right outside the courthouse where there's, you know, multiple police around."

Garcia said he and others were kept in the courtroom for a while and finally allowed to leave out the front door.

Bill Burns, the Wyandotte County court administrator, said Friday afternoon that employees at the court services building had not been allowed to leave for some time following the shooting.

Antoine Fielder

Fielder was set to go to trial on July 30 in Wyandotte County on a robbery charge. Fielder had been booked into the Wyandotte County jail on charges related to two cases from the year before.

His arrest in Wyandotte County wasn't his first trip to the jail in downtown KCK.

Fielder faced trial twice in Wyandotte County for the 2015 killing of an Overland Park woman. Each time a mistrial was declared because the juries could not agree on a verdict and Fielder went free last fall after prosecutors dismissed the charge.

His freedom was short lived.

After he was arrested for an alleged robbery in Wyandotte County earlier this year, Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker filed murder charges against Fielder for the December shooting death of a woman on the 600 block of Spruce Avenue. He was also accused of armed criminal action and assault for the alleged shooting of a friend of the slain woman.

Kansas Department of Corrections records show Fielder in 2007 had been convicted on drug charges.

Tragedy and heartbreak

Friday was another day of tragedy and heartbreak for a community where two other law enforcement officials died in the line of duty within the last two years.

"Unfortunately, this isn't the first time we have had to deal with this," Blair said. "They're doing their jobs."

Kansas City, Kan., police detective Brad Lancaster was shot and killed in May 2016 after police began a pursuit of a Tonganoxie man near the Kansas Speedway and ended in Kansas City near Bannister Road and Bruce R. Watkins Drive.

The next month Kansas City, Kan., police captain Robert Melton was shot and killed as police were responding to a drive-by shooting and subsequent police chase.

In 2015, Wyandotte County sheriff's officer Scott Wood was shot at a convenience store, but survived the attack.

Gov. Jeff Colyer was briefed on Friday's incident as he arrived at Children's Mercy Park for a congressional forum hosted by the Kansas City, Kan., Chamber of Commerce after the shooting occurred. He offered a moment of silence for the deputies after he finished his speech at the forum.

"I was deeply saddened to learn of the tragic shooting of two sheriff's deputies outside the Wyandotte Courthouse earlier this morning," Colyer said in a statement later on Friday. "Our law enforcement officers put their lives on the line each day and every day to protect the public and their selfless service deserves our highest honor."

The Star's Katie Bernard and Conner Mitchell contributed to this story.

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