WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — The Wichita Police Department (WPD) says a recent uptick in gang violence is connected to the March 15 shooting at Towne East Mall.
WPD Chief Joe Sullivan held a press conference Friday morning, inviting local community and religious leaders to discuss the recent increase in violence in the community.
To watch the full press conference, click here.
Chief Sullivan says the vast majority of the violence is gang-related feuds, with the majority of them connected to the mall shooting that killed 14-year-old TrenJ’vious Hutton.
The chief gave a timeline of the events so far this month:
- Dec. 10: A driveby shooting at Oliver and Kensington St involved two men shooting at each other.
- Dec. 11: A man remains in critical condition after he was shot in the head in the 2600 block of N Green.
- Dec. 16: An 18-year-old man was shot in the head in the 4200 block of N Dellrose and remains in critical condition.
- Dec. 16: In retaliation for the following shooting, there was a drive-by shooting in the 1300 block of E Kemper at the home of the shooter. Police arrested the suspect in the Dellrose shooting at the home.
- Dec. 23: In the 900 block of S Mission, four people were shot during a party. Two of them died at an apartment. Though not directly tied to gang violence, there are suspected gang connections. Police say the shooting was over a debt of just $50. Two men are facing charges.
- Dec. 24: In the 7800 block of E Douglas, a couple with Christmas presents in their vehicle were carjacked at gunpoint by four teens armed with handguns. Three suspects were arrested after a chase. The youngest gunman was just 13 years old. Police say that the incident was gang-related but not directly tied to feuds.
- Dec. 25: In the 500 block of N Rock Road. Two men were shot at by another group of men in retaliation for the Dec. 16 Dellrose shooting, according to police.
- Dec. 27: Shortly before 6 a.m., a 23-year-old man and a 16-year-old girl were shot. The 13-year-old was struck 13 times. Police say this shooting stemmed from an argument.
- Dec. 28: In the 4900 block of E Kensington, four juveniles with gang affiliation shot at a house at least seven times. The shooting was live-streamed over social media.
Wichita police say gangs are utilizing social media to antagonize each other.
“It’s nonstop. It doesn’t end, you know, when everybody goes home for the night. They post everything. They talk about it, they put it on Instagram, they do whatever, and it just continues to feed this information,” said Lieutenant Chad Beard, WPD Investigations Gang Felony Assault Section.
Investigators are constantly monitoring local gang activity online. The department says they are currently keeping tabs on around 150 people in connection to recent gang activity.
“This is not some dragnet that we’re going to just start arresting and stopping vehicles everywhere. This is a very focused, targeted approach to this violence,” Lt. Beard said.
Chief Sullivan made a plea for the community that if you’re tempted to pick up a gun on New Year, don’t. “We want you alive, we want you free, we want you safe, but if you pick up a gun and attempt to harm someone, we will hold you accountable,” he said.