Wichita | KCUR

Wichita

Three men were charged in a federal indictment unsealed Wednesday in connection with the fake emergency call that led to the fatal police shooting of a Wichita man last December.

Tyler Barriss, 25, is accused of making the fake emergency call — often referred to as swatting — on Dec. 28. He is charged with making a hoax report to emergency services, cyberstalking, wire fraud and conspiracy.

Madeline Fox / Kansas News Service

Some 20 administrators in the Kansas agency managing child welfare and state assistance have been promoted, fired or shifted to other posts since November.

Gina Meier-Hummel was tapped to take over the Department for Children and Families nearly six months ago and says now that the changes have been aimed at strengthening the agency as it confronts a rising caseload of children in care.

A key witness in the trial involving three Kansas men accused of planning an attack on Somali immigrants testified Thursday that the group was actively recruiting people to help carry out the alleged plot.

The Kansas Senate has passed a bill that increases the penalties for people who make “swatting” calls.

The bill was sparked by a swatting incident in December in which Andrew Finch was killed by Wichita Police responding to a fake call about a hostage situation at his address.

Swatting involves making a false 911 call to draw law enforcement to an address.

Finch was shot when he came onto his porch to investigate the police activity outside. Police have said Finch disobeyed police commands and was reaching towards his waistband when he was shot.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas has filed a complaint in federal court on behalf of a Wichita man who said he was targeted because he is Muslim and was falsely accused of flying a terrorist flag.

The ACLU said in a news release Monday that it filed a complaint against the Spirit/Boeing Employees’ Association, or SBEA, on behalf of Munir Zanial, who works at Spirit AeroSystems.

SBEA is a member-owned nonprofit open to current or former Spirit and Boeing employees, according to its website. It is not affiliated with Spirit AeroSystems.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas News Service

Students across Kansas joined their peers elsewhere in the country by walking out of school Wednesday and into the national debate over guns.

The mid-morning walkouts took them to the streets, to the Kansas Statehouse and circling around their schools to mark the one-month anniversary of the nation’s latest mass school shooting.

Many of the protests centered on 17 minutes of silence, 60 seconds for each person killed during the Parkland, Florida, school shooting.

Former Wichita Congressman Mike Pompeo is poised  to be the next U.S. secretary of state.

Updated at 3:00 p.m. ET

President Trump announced Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was fired on Tuesday morning in a tweet that followed a year of frequent tension between the two leaders.

The Wichita Police Department says the fatal police shooting that killed a man in late December started with a prank phone call, commonly referred to as swatting.

In swatting cases, callers utilize technology to make 911 calls appear local—also known as spoofing—and then report a false emergency at a victim’s home to get a strong police and SWAT team response, which is where the term gets its name. The harassment is often associated with the dark corners of online gaming.

KDHE

A lawyer who spearheaded Republican Gov. Sam Brownback’s efforts to block Medicaid payments to Planned Parenthood will take charge of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment next week. 

Darian Dernovish will become interim head of the agency on Jan. 8, Brownback’s office said Wednesday. He will replace Susan Mosier, who has held the job since December 2014. 

Wichita Police have identified the woman found dead in her home Tuesday morning as 42-year-old Perla Rodriguez. She was known for her work in helping abused women in the community.

Police determined Rodriguez died of blunt-force trauma. WPD spokesman Officer Charley Davidson says her boyfriend has been arrested and taken into custody for first-degree murder.

El Dorado Police Department

In a twisted crime spree that lasted from 1974 until 1991, Dennis Rader stalked and killed ten people in and around Wichita, Kansas. During and after the spree, he taunted pursuing authorities in letters he sent to police, local news and, once, left in a book at the public library. In the letters, Rader established his identity with a handle that caught on quickly: BTK.

El Dorado Police Department

First, a forensic psychologist who spent years communicating with Dennis Rader reveals what drove the serial murderer to kill 10 people in and around Wichita, Kansas. Then, two of Kansas City's best-known jazz performers talk about their latest album, how they met, and the area jazz scene.

Wichita Public Schools

The superintendent from the biggest school district in Kansas is the "sole finalist" for the top job in Olathe Public Schools.

The district says the school board is expected to finalize the appointment of John Allison at its meeting Monday.

Allison has lead the Wichita district since 2009.  Before that, he was superintendent in the Mt. Lebanon School District in Pennsylvania and has been an administrator in Texas and the Shawnee Mission School District.

Nadya Faulx / KMUW

In what turned out to be his last big speech as a presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders called on his supporters to run for office. By then, one political newcomer from Derby, just outside of Wichita, had already filed to run for the Kansas Senate.

Gabriel Costilla had never thought about running for office. But, inspired by Sanders’ campaign, the Wichita high school teacher announced he would take on two-term Republican state Sen. Ty Masterson in the District 16 race.

Prairie Village has the distinction among Kansas cities of being the hometown of not one — but two! — operatic prodigies. Hear the latest tenor voice that's delighting audiences from California to Carnegie Hall. Then, we examine a different way to frame victims of sexual violence and the concept of rape itself. Finally, the latest Statehouse Blend Kansas, recorded live in Wichita.

Rowland Scherman / National Archives and Records Administration

Bob Dylan, who won the Nobel Prize for literature this morning — "for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition" —has written a lot of words, about a lot of places. In honor of his accomplishments, however, we can't help being proud that a few of those words indicate he's been thinking about us.

1. "High Water (For Charley Patton)," from 2001's Love and Theft

First verse:

Gavin Peters

Moreland & Arbuckle
Promised Land or Bust

It’s not easy to surprise with a blues record.

Wichita Police Chief Gordon Ramsay has been invited to the White House to participate in an event focused on community policing.

Last weekend in Wichita, a peaceful protest in support of Black Lives Matter turned into a community picnic with the police. How are we making similar efforts here in Kansas City?

Guests:

While many educators are spending the summer on the campaign trail, the sign outside a public elementary school in Wichita urges voters to register.
Abigail Wilson / KMUW

To say that many educators in Kansas are fed up with state lawmakers would be an understatement. The legislature has been putting a tighter and tighter squeeze on public schools in recent years. This election season, educators are trying to send legislators packing.

The Kansas Association of School Boards (KASB) estimates that all across the state roughly 50 current and former school board members, administrators, and teachers are candidates in legislative elections.

Precincts.info

Candidates running for office this fall could, in theory, call up a veritable army of support. For each party in every voting precinct there’s a position for one committeeman and one committeewoman. Across Kansas, that would add up to roughly 14,000 precinct captains. But, most of the positions are likely to be left vacant for the 2016 elections.

Lori Graham is a first-time candidate running for state Senate in District 27.

She’s been knocking on doors in northwest Wichita since January. Right now it’s just her, a handful of volunteers, and list of Republican voters.

A new book about Wichita artists has us intrigued. What's the art scene like in the biggest city in Kansas?

Guests:

  • Larry Schwarm, photographer
  • Elizabeth Stevenson, artist

Most people have experience with a boss or manager who was less than inspiring. Former Kansas state Rep. Ed O'Malley, who heads up the Kansas Leadership Center in Wichita, says leadership is an activity, not a role, and should not be limited to those in high places.

Over the course of his 70-year career, architect Frank Lloyd Wright designed about 1,100 skyscrapers, hotels, churches, museums, and homes. More than 500 of these were built, and seven are in Kansas and Missouri. 

In Missouri: 

Bott House (1956, built 1963)
3640 NW Briarcliff Road, Kansas City

This double-cantilever house perches on a bluff just north of downtown Kansas City, with dramatic views of the city and the Missouri River. It's in the Usonian style — a small, single-story home in an L-shape. 

An update on last night's mass shooting in and around Hesston, Kansas.

Guest:

Courtesy Photo / The Gordon Parks Foundation

Kansas-born civil rights photographer Gordon Parks had a consistent message through the years, according to his great niece.

“The power of choosing a weapon, shooting a camera proved to be more powerful than shooting a gun,” Robin Hickman said of her uncle during an interview this week with Gina Kaufmann, host of KCUR’s Central Standard.  

A panel of state officials has approved more than $4 million in emergency aid for 25 Kansas school districts that requested the additional funding.The money was mostly provided to districts with enrollment growth or falling property values. 

The panel approved $400,000 for Kansas districts with growing student population and more than $350,000 for Wichita Public Schools to help educate refugee students. That district has nearly 100 new refugees from Africa and Asia.

Diane Gjerstad, with the Wichita district, says some of those students have had little formal education.

In a tragic accident that has left a Kansas community in mourning, a bat boy hit in the head by a player taking practice swings Saturday has died of his injuries. Kaiser Carlile, 9, was a well-loved part of the Liberal Bee Jays, a summer league team for college players.

Photos of Carlile show him as a freckle-faced boy: hustling around the field, sitting in the dugout and talking with the players. But during his team's National Baseball Congress World Series game Saturday in Wichita, he was hit in the head by a bat as he ran past the on-deck circle after an out.

Frank Morris / KCUR

Wichita, Kan., calls itself the "Air Capital of the World."

But sales of the business jets made there took a nosedive during the recession and have struggled since.

A couple of fresh business ideas are trying to help. One centers on getting more people to travel in small planes. The other is repurposing business jet technology to build a jet fighter for the developing world. 

Hard times in Wichita

Wichita’s been through some tough years recentl. And so has Kevin Bell.

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