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Emotional Kansas City, Kansas, Police Chief Says Police Killing Was Not An Ambush

Laura Ziegler
KCKUR 89.3
Flags in front of the Kansas City, Kansas City Hall.

Yesterday's killing of Capt. Robert D. Melton, 46, of the Kansas City, Kansas Police Department was a casualty of the job, Chief Terry Zeigler said at a press conference this morning.

The killing was not an ambush, he said, addressing concern that his city would become the latest site of targeted violence against law enforcement.

"This crime does not fall into the national narrative of planned attacks against police officers," the chief said in his prepared remarks. 

But he pleaded for an end to the vitriol and violence.

"The hate and anti-police speech has got to stop because the consequences are real — our blue line just got a little thinner yesterday."

Zeigler said he believes there are no suspects at large, but he encouraged people to share information if they have it. He said the investigation would be kept open.

Choking up between sentences, the chief said his department had come too far to let the second police killing in as many months destroy the trust it has worked so hard to build with their communities.

"Our department is hurting," he said. "But make no mistake, officers of the Kansas City, Kansas Police Department will continue to fight for the safety of the community ... we are not going to go back on the years of work we've done."

Exactly what happened

Flanked by ministers and Mayor Mark Holland, the police chief updated the facts of yesterday's shooting of Captain Robert D. Melton:

  • An officer on patrol spotted a burgundy Pontiac Grand Prix near 1500 Haskell driving the wrong way on a one-way street. The car took off. The officer pursued it but stopped when the car was out of range (as is routine with a traffic infraction.)
  • At 1:39 p.m., another officer spotted the vehicle in the area of 1500 Rowland. The officer provided descriptions of suspects who ran from the vehicle. He took the driver into custody without incident.
  • At 1:58 p.m., Captain Melton spotted the second suspect in the car around 22nd and Georgia. He proceeded to cut off the vehicle with his patrol car.
  • The suspect got out of his car and shot several rounds into the rolled down passenger window of Melton's car.
  • Captain Melton was shot several times. Officers immediately administered aid.
  • Melton "ended his watch" at approximately 2:55 p.m. at K.U. Hospital. 

According to the biography released by the police department, Captain Robert D.Melton was a 1988 graduate of Fairfield High School in Langdon, Kansas. He has a B.A. from the MidAmerica Nazarene University in Olathe and was a decorated veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
There will be a candlelight vigil Wednesday night in front of the Kansas City, Kansas City Hall at 8 p.m.

Laura Ziegler is community engagement reporter and producer at KCUR 89.3. You can reach her on Twitter @laurazig or at lauraz@kcur.org                                                                                                                                    

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