WICHITA, Kan. – A man with a history of drug convictions fatally shot a Kansas sheriff's deputy as the deputy tried to handcuff the man on suspicion of vehicle theft, the sheriff's department said Monday.
The Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office identified 29-year-old Robert Greeson as the suspect in the killing of Deputy Robert Kunze, who died at a hospital after the shooting Sunday afternoon just outside Wichita. Greeson also died at the scene.
Sedgwick County Sheriff Jeff Easter described the 41-year-old Kunze as "an exceptional deputy." Kunze was a 12-year veteran of the force.
Easter said Kunze was responding to a report about a man in a stolen black truck who was lurking around two all-terrain vehicles and another pickup about 20 miles (32 kilometers) west of downtown Wichita. When Kunze arrived, he found the hood open on the black truck. Kunze patted down the suspect's waistband and found a .40-caliber handgun.
The gun was placed away from the two of them, but a fight ensued when Kunze tried to handcuff the suspect, Easter said at a news conference Sunday.
Kunze was able to use the emergency button on his portable radio to summon help. Another deputy arrived about a minute later, and two witnesses hiding nearby said shots had been fired. The deputy found Kunze and the suspect on the ground. A .40-caliber handgun was found next to the suspect.
Kunze had been shot once in his upper torso, above his ballistic vest, Easter said. The suspect was shot in his upper torso and waist.
Easter said the deputy's vehicle was equipped with a dash camera but that footage was not yet available.
The department is waiting for ballistic testing to determine how many rounds were fired and from which weapon or weapons, Easter said.
Greeson had been a suspect in the earlier theft of a .40-caliber weapon as well as the black truck and another vehicle on Sunday, Easter said, adding that while there were no other suspects in the deputy's death, there may be more in the other cases.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is tracing the weapon found at the scene to find out who owned it and whether it had been stolen, agency spokesman John Ham said.
Kansas Department of Corrections records show Greeson had convictions for selling and distributing drugs and for aggravated battery. While incarcerated, he had multiple disciplinary infractions, including for fighting.
The sheriff's office posted a badge covered with a blue and black mourning band on its Facebook page to remember Kunze.
Easter said Kunze "worked with great pride, loved and encouraged the people who worked with him, but most of all he loved his family." Kunze had a wife and child.
"We will always remember him for his smile, his contagious laugh and his ability to engage anyone and everyone in conversation," Easter said.