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Headlines for Monday, February 22, 2021


Kansas Lawmakers Hope for Number on Unemployment Fraud Cost

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas lawmakers hope that a legislative audit to be released later this week will provide an estimate of how much the state has paid out in fraudulent claims for unemployment benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic. Republicans in the GOP-controlled Legislature remained frustrated Monday with the lack of an estimate from the state Department of Labor for the potential cost of bogus unemployment claims. Their focus on potential fraud has intensified in recent weeks. The Legislature’s nonpartisan auditing division plans on Wednesday to release a reports on problems at the department. Republican Representative Kristey Williams of Augusta said lawmakers expect to get “a good baseline” in assessing fraud.


Kansas Man Linked to Proud Boys Arrested in Capitol Riot

LIBERTY, Mo. (AP) — A man linked to the Kansas City metro chapter of the Proud Boys is charged with participating in the riots at the U.S. Capitol last month. FBI agents arrested Ryan Ashlock, of Gardner, Kansas, Monday morning without incident. Federal authorities allege in an affidavit the he was with several members of the Proud Boys who are already charged in the attack. The affidavit says Ashlock conspired with other Proud Boys members and helped knock down metal barricades between police officers and protesters outside the Capitol. The FBI says Ashlock separated from the group when he was hit with pepper spray and it was unclear if he went inside the Capitol.


Kansas House Bill Creating Agency to Track Foster Care System Advances

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A House committee has approved a bill to create an independent agency to oversee Kansas’ foster care system. The House Children and Seniors Committee on Monday advanced the bill creating the Office of the Child Advocate. The agency would  investigate complaints and track child welfare agencies, primarily the state Department for Children and Families, which oversees the foster care system. The move came after the bill’s chief proponent agreed to have the proposed agency report to the Republican-led Legislature instead of an executive branch agency under Democratic Governor Laura Kelly. The bill now goes to the full House for a vote.


Geary County Authorities Seek Suspect in Apparent Road Rage Shooting on I-70

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Authorities in northeastern Kansas are seeking a man suspected of shooting a woman in a road rage incident on Interstate 70 south of Manhattan. The Geary County Sheriff's Office says in a news release that deputies were called to the stretch of I-70 around 11:30 am Sunday for a road rage incident and arrived to find a woman inside a vehicle suffering from a single gunshot wound. The woman was taken to a Manhattan hospital for the injury, which was not believed to be life-threatening. The sheriff's office said it was searching for a male suspect believed to be in his 20s or 30s, but no arrest had been reported by this (MON) morning.


Firefighters: Woman Found Critically Injured in Topeka Fire

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Officials say a woman is fighting for her life after being found critically injured in a fire that consumed an abandoned commercial building in Topeka. The Topeka fire Department says in a news release that crews were called around 8:30 pm Sunday to a fire in a single-story masonry commercial building that firefighters believed to be vacant. During a search of the building, firefighters found an unresponsive woman and rushed her to a hospital with life-threatening injuries. Her name has not been released. An investigation showed the blaze was likely started by a "warming fire."


Kansas Governor Urges FERC to Investigate Weather-Related Failures

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Governor Laura Kelly is urging the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to investigate systemic failures during this month's weather emergency and to protect Kansans from demand-related price surges for natural gas and electricity. A letter on Friday was signed by Kelly and members of the Kansas Corporation Commission. Kansas was among many states hit with snow, ice and bitter cold over the past two weeks. Kelly and the commission called on the FERC to examine the circumstances that led to reduced supply of natural gas. Kelly will seek aid from the Biden administration and will encourage Congress to pass a stimulus package to provide relief for Kansas communities.


Meatpacking Workers in Kansas Still Wait for Vaccines

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Meatpacking plants have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, yet thousands of workers at southwestern Kansas meat plants are still waiting to hear when they'll be vaccinated. The Kansas News Service reported that the wait is frustrating for workers who have watched college faculty, first responders and postal workers get their vaccines, and as Kansas launched a program to get a first dose into the arms of every school worker by early April. Meatpacking plants have been the state's third-largest source of COVID-19 outbreaks, topped only by long-term care facilities and correctional centers.


Kansas Records Nearly 292,000 COVID-19 Cases, Including 4,643 Deaths, Since Start of Pandemic

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) — UPDATED: The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) reports today (MON) that there have been 291,715 cases of COVID-19, including 4,643 deaths, since the beginning of the pandemic.  Johnson and Sedgwick counties continue to have the most recorded cases, with more than 53,000 each.  KDHE will provide its next update Wednesday. 


Injections Wells Closed or Reduced After Oklahoma Earthquake

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The injection of wastewater into underground wells by oil and gas producers has been stopped or reduced in the area where a magnitude 4.2 earthquake struck in Oklahoma. The Oklahoma Corporation Commission on Friday directed disposal wells within three miles of the quake's epicenter to stop operations and those from three to 10 miles of the epicenter to reduce volume by at least 50%. There were no injuries or damage reported from the quake that occurred Friday morning near Manchester along the Oklahoma-Kansas state line. The commission took similar action earlier this month after a series of earthquakes about 55 miles southeast of Friday's quake.


President Biden Pays Visit to Ailing Former Kansas Senator Bob Dole

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden paid a visit Saturday to former Sen. Bob Dole, days after the World War II veteran and 1996 Republican presidential nominee announced he'd been diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. Biden served in the Senate with Dole for more than two decades. The president arrived Saturday afternoon at Washington's Watergate complex, where the 97-year-old and his wife, Elizabeth, have maintained a longtime residence. The White House described Dole as a "close friend" of the president. Dole said he plans to begin undergoing treatment today (MON).  Dole represented his native Kansas in Congress for almost 36 years.


Kansas Girl Dies After Being Trapped in Fire in Wichita

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A 17-year-old girl died from smoke inhalation after she was unable to escape a fire in west Wichita. Wichita fire investigator Donny Eckerman told The Wichita Eagle that the girl was trapped inside the duplex Friday afternoon by a deadbolt that required a key to open. The fire started in the kitchen after a burner was left on and a pan with grease caught fire. Firefighters found the girl unresponsive in her grandmother's room, which is where the deadbolt key was kept. She died later at a hospital. Officials estimate the fire caused $40,000 damage to the building and $20,000 damage to the contents.


Suspect Killed, Deputy Injured in Western Missouri

CHILLICOTHE, Mo. (AP) — A suspect is dead and a western Missouri deputy is injured after the suspect allegedly attacked the deputy while inside the patrol car. The incident happened Friday night in Livingston County near Chillicothe. The sheriff’s department says a one-vehicle accident was reported on U.S. 36 and an arriving deputy found the vehicle unoccupied but noticed foot tracks in the snow. The release said the deputy then spotted a man coming toward him making comments that raised fears that the man had mental health problems. The deputy and the man were speaking inside the deputy’s vehicle when the man allegedly began attacking him. The deputy fatally shot the suspect.


Arrest Made in Connection with Body Found in Duffel Bag in Northwest Missouri

FAUCETT, Mo. (AP) — One suspect has been arrested and police are searching for a second person in connection with the death of a woman whose remains were found inside a duffel bag in northwestern Missouri. The Buchanan County Sheriff’s office said Sunday that 22-year-old Taylor Stoughton has been charged with second-degree murder in the February 2020 death of 21-year-old Ariel Starcher. The sheriff’s department is searching for Marcus Brooks in connection with Starcher’s death. A Missouri Transportation Department worker found the bag with Starcher’s body inside it on February 18, 2020 alongside the road, which is about 45 miles north of Kansas City.


Kansas City Man Charged in Deaths of Woman and Her Son

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City, Missouri, man is facing charges in the deaths of a woman and her son. The Kansas City Star reports that 32-year-old Dmarius Bozeman is charged with second-degree murder and armed criminal action in the shooting deaths of 35-year-old Khasheme Strother and her 19-year-old son, Raymond Hill. Both were killed Wednesday. The shootings happened at a town home. A juvenile witness told police that Bozeman and Strother were involved in an altercation when they heard gunshots. Bozeman was also shot but authorities said his injuries were not considered life-threatening. The killings marked the 18th and 19th homicides in Kansas City this year.


Ex-Wichita Officer, School Employee Pleads in Child Sex Case

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A former Wichita police officer and public school employee pleaded no contest to three charges accusing him of molesting underage boys. Fifty-eight-year-old Alex Robinson was entered the plea Friday. His trial was scheduled to begin today (MON).  The Sedgwick County District Attorney's office said the crimes involved three victims between who were abused in Wichita in 2011 and 2012. Robinson worked for the Wichita police department for 22 years. He was the Wichita Public Schools' safety services supervisor when he was arrested in January 2013. Before Friday's plea, Robinson was facing eight charges. Those charges involved boys aged 11 to 14 and occurred over 12 years, beginning in 2000.


Man Gets Probation for Shooting Woman He Found in His Home

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita man who shot a woman after finding several people inside a home he was trying to sell has been sentenced to probation. Christopher Meece was sentenced recently to two years of probation and ordered to pay $44,000 restitution in connection with the October 2019 shooting. Meece pleaded guilty to several misdemeanors after prosecutors dismissed several felony aggravated battery charges. Meece had reported four burglaries at the home in the days before the shooting. When he went to check on the home on October 29, 2019, Meece told police he saw two men and one woman running before he fired a shot and struck the woman.


Family Alleges Botched 911 Call Caused Kansas Woman's Death

PRAIRIE VILLAGE, Kan. (AP) — The family of a Kansas woman who died after collapsing at her home is suing the Kansas City, Missouri, police and fire departments for wrongful death. The lawsuit alleges the departments took too long to dispatch help when 40-year-old Cathryn McClelland collapsed at her Prairie Village home in July 2019 after suffering a heart attack. The lawsuit says McClelland's 8-year-old son quickly called 911 and gave the family's address, but it took more than 10 minutes for an ambulance to be dispatched. KCTV reports the lawsuit says the ambulance was delayed because dispatchers did not believe the boy was giving them the correct address.


Owner of Well-Known Kansas City Barbecue Restaurant Dies

KANSAS CITY, Mo (AP) — L.C. Richardson, owner of the well-known LC's Bar-B-Q restaurant in Kansas City, died this week. Richardson's granddaughter wrote on the restaurant's website that Richardson died at the age of 86. She did not give a cause of death. Richardson founded the restaurant in 1986 near the Truman Sports Complex, and it became a popular spot for diners going to Royals and Chiefs games, and for barbecue fans across the region. The restaurant announced a public viewing will be held on Feb. 27, from 4 to 7 p.m. at Watkins Heritage Chapel in Kansas City. The family plans a private funeral service in Jackson, Mississippi, at a later date.


Shockers Solidifying Shaky Spot in NCAA Tournament Field

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita State's revamped team is not only cruising along at 13-4 and 9-2 in the American Athletic Conference, it jumped into first place Thursday night with a 68-63 win over sixth-ranked Houston. It was the Shockers' eighth win this season by no more than five points, and their highest-ranked victim at home since beating No. 2 Louisville in 1967. It also probably pushed the Shockers from the NCAA Tournament bubble to firmly in the field. Not bad for a program that turned over almost its entire roster from last season, then watched coach Gregg Marshall depart amid allegations of verbal and physical abuse just prior to the start of the season.


KPR's daily headlines are generally posted by 10 am weekdays and updated throughout the day. KPR's weekend summary is usually published by 1 pm Saturdays and Sundays. 


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