Wichita, KS – Three Wichita police officers were wounded last Saturday afternoon when an improvised shotgun blasted them as they entered a vacant house.
The incident occurred at about 4 p.m. on Feb. 27 when officers responded to a call from a homeowner who was concerned about open windows in a vacant house in the 1400-block of South Saint Francis, the Associated Press reported.
The officers responded to the address to check and see if anybody was in the house that was supposed to be empty.
Wichita police officials said that as the officers entered the vacant home, a “modified, loaded shotgun” discharged, the Associated Press reported.
Three Wichita Police Department officers were wounded.
The wounded officers were transported to nearby hospitals and police set up a perimeter around the home and evacuated neighbors from their residences while they tried to determine if there was anyone inside the house, the Associated Press reported.
Neighbor Julie Martinez told KSN that she slept through the shotgun blast next door but woke up when police banged on her door to tell her to evacuate.
“I was kind of scared when they told me you have to leave because they wanted me to leave the first time and I said, ‘No, I can stay in my house,’ but they came back and said no you are leaving,” Martinez said.
Wichita Police Chief Gordon Ramsay it wasn’t immediately clear at that point whether the house had been booby-trapped before the officers arrived, the Associated Press reported.
Police said there had been several modifications made to the shotgun that went off.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) responded to the scene and were assisting Wichita police with their investigation.
BREAKING: @ATFKansasCity Agents are on the scene of an explosion in downtown Wichita, KS, working with local and state authorities to investigate the incident. Follow @WichitaPolice for updates. pic.twitter.com/L1kEkJL0qi
— ATF Kansas City (@ATFKansasCity) February 27, 2021
@WichitaPolice Did not find anyone inside the house. Three Wichita Police officers were injured from a modified, loaded shotgun that was discharged when the officers entered. @KSNNews will continue to keep you updated on air and online. pic.twitter.com/wSNOKNToks
— Andrea Herrera (@AndreaHerreraTV) February 28, 2021
Police arrested 46-year-old James Hathorn in connection with the incident before 4 p.m. on Sunday, KAKE reported.
Hathorn was booked into the Sedgwick County Jail and charged with two counts of aggravated battery, criminal possession of a firearm, possession of drug paraphernalia, and multiple burglary and theft charges.
He was held on no bond pending his arraignment on Monday, The Wichita Eagle reported.
Kansas Department of Corrections records showed that Hathorn has previously been convicted in Johnson and Douglas Counties on charges that included theft, criminal threat, aggravated assault, and violating a protection from abuse order, KAKE reported.
The 3 officers injured are expected to leave the hospital today. I was able to get in touch with one who is home with his family resting. He's in good spirits.
— Dr. Brandon Whipple (@BWhippleKS) February 28, 2021
Two of the officers remained hospitalized in stable condition with serious injuries that were not considered life threatening, the Associated Press reported.
The third officer was treated and released.