Crime

Man charged in KC cave complex threat has long criminal history in Johnson County

KCPD searches underground cave complex for armed, disgruntled former employee

Kansas City police are searching an underground cave complex for a possibly armed man who allegedly made threats against his former employer and was seen entering the premises Tuesday morning.
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Kansas City police are searching an underground cave complex for a possibly armed man who allegedly made threats against his former employer and was seen entering the premises Tuesday morning.

A man who was accused this week of threatening to shoot former co-workers at an underground cave complex in Kansas City has an extensive criminal history in Kansas, online court records show.

Kevin J. Becknal, 45, was arrested after Kansas City police received a report Tuesday that he told a former colleague he was armed and was going to “shoot people,” according to charging documents in Clay County Circuit Court.

Reports that Becknal had returned to Hunt Midwest SubTropolis after being terminated from his job led to a lockdown of the commercial complex, which holds dozens of businesses and thousands of employees. A massive search of the cave system by local, state and federal law enforcement turned up nothing, and Becknal was eventually found across the state line in Johnson County.

On Wednesday, prosecutors charged Becknal with making a terrorist threat.

Online court records at Johnson County District Court in Kansas show Becknal has a criminal history dating back to the 1990s, including convictions related to domestic violence, driving under the influence and drug possession.

He served time in jail and was placed on probation in many of the cases.

According to court records, Becknal was born in the Kansas City, Kansas, area and has moved around several times in the past two decades, with addresses in Olathe, Lenexa, Overland Park and De Soto in Kansas and Kansas City and Orrick in Missouri. His employment history said he’s held jobs at restaurants and an auto repair shop.

Becknal’s legal woes in Johnson County appeared to begin in the 1990s. In 1995 he was found guilty of two counts of drug possession. Earlier in the decade, in 1991, a Kevin J. Becknal faced two separate charges of aggravated false impersonation, archived court records indicated.

In 2000, court records said, Becknal was charged with battery and possessing drug paraphernalia. The drug-related charge was dismissed, and Becknal pleaded guilty to battery. He was sentenced to serve six months in jail with probation to follow.

In 2001 and again in 2008, Becknal was found guilty of two more charges of domestic battery and was sentenced to 90 days and six months in jail, respectively.

Less than a month after he was sentenced in the 2008 case, court records said, he tried to drive under the influence of alcohol. The incident happened in 2009, and Becknal, by that point, had three or more prior convictions for DUI, charging documents said. He pleaded guilty to DUI in December 2009, and was sentenced to five months in jail.

He was charged and convicted for DUI again in 2011. He served six months in jail and another six months on work release.

The trouble continued in the summer of 2012. Court records showed Becknal faced two separate counts of domestic battery, one labeled as a felony, involving the same victim. He pleaded guilty to the charges, spending the rest of 2012, 2013 and part of 2014 in jail and at a residential facility.

Becknal was most recently convicted in 2015 of possessing methamphetamine and obstructing the legal process. He was sentenced in that case to more than two years in prison, court records said. He was released in September 2017, according to the Kansas Department of Corrections website.

Recently, Becknal was terminated from his job at a business at the SubTropolis complex, according to police, and was told not to return.

On Tuesday, a worker at SubTropolis alerted security that Becknal returned to the job site, told the worker he had 45 bullets and was going to “shoot people around here,” according to court records.

The incident set off a lockdown and widespread manhunt involving federal and state law enforcement. The underground cave holds miles of road and houses as many as 2,000 employees.

Later Tuesday, Becknal was located by authorities and detained at 95th Street and Mission Road.

Becknal has been charged in Clay County in connection to the alleged threat.

Also on Wednesday, the Johnson County District Attorney’s Office charged Becknal with making a criminal threat.

Attorneys appointed to represent Becknal in the Johnson County case have not returned a request for comment as of Wednesday evening.

Phone calls placed to Becknal led to disconnected lines or went unanswered.

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Kaitlyn Schwers covers breaking news and crime at night for The Kansas City Star. Originally from Willard, Mo., she spent nearly three years reporting in Arkansas and Illinois before returning to Missouri and joining The Star in 2017.
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