WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — The Wichita Police Department says 16-year-old Azuri Jones is the city’s latest homicide victim.
Around 1:15 p.m. Thursday, police started getting reports of a disturbance with a weapon near 15th and Belmont. Witnesses said two vehicles were chasing each other through a neighborhood. The witnesses also heard gunshots.
As officers arrived in the area, they learned that a car showed up at Wesley Medical Center with Jones. She died from her wounds. The other people in the vehicle were also teenagers. They were not injured.
Police officers got a description of the suspect’s vehicle and found it. They say it was a stolen vehicle. The suspects fled on foot, but officers found them near 17th and Hillside.
“Officers set up some surveillance,” Capt. Jeff Weible said. “Found them out on foot, and obviously, they didn’t stay still for officers, so they were spread out a little bit, but in the same general area. All three of them were located.”
The Wichita Police Department arrested two 17-year-old boys and a 16-year-old boy all on suspicion of first-degree murder and criminal discharge of a firearm into an occupied vehicle. One of the 17 year olds was also arrested on a charge of felon in possession of a firearm.
Police say they also recovered a firearm. They say all the teenagers involved know each other.
An investigation by the Wichita Police Department revealed the three arrested teenage boys were in a red Kia along with another 16-year-old girl. The girl got into a disturbance with another teenage boy inside of the vehicle in a parking lot in the 1400 block of North Terrace. During the disturbance, four of her friends pulled up in a white Honda, one of them being Jones. The 16-year-old got out of the Kia and got into the Honda. The disturbance continued so the driver of the Honda left with Jones.
Wichita police also said the three teenage boys got back into the red Kia and began chasing the girls in the Honda. In the area of 15th and Kenmar, one of the boys fired multiple shots at the Honda striking Jones who was sitting in the back seat. The driver of the Honda drove directly to the hospital. The red Kia was located unoccupied in the area of Vesta and Fountain and was later found to have been reported stolen on Wednesday.
Weible says cases like this are difficult for everyone involved, including officers working the case.
“Any time that there’s violence with teens, it’s alarming and concerning,” Weible said. “It’s going to take not only the Wichita Police Department, but the community as a whole to intervene in some of that violence. So it’s going to take efforts on the parts of parents, loved ones, community members, all to help in identifying who may be carrying guns, especially teenagers, and to help us curb some of this violence.”
The Wichita State Police Department assisted the Wichita Police Department with the case since it was close to campus.
The investigation is ongoing and the case will be presented to the Sedgwick County District Attorney’s Office.