Topeka, KS – A Topeka police officer was shot during a gun battle with a homicide suspect in downtown Topeka on Thursday morning.
The series of events leading to the shootout began shortly after 9:30 a.m. on Sept. 29, when the Topeka Police Department (TPD) received a report of a double shooting in the 3500-block of S.W. Kerry Avenue, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported.
TPD Chief Brian Wheeles said that one of the victims was pronounced dead at the scene.
The other victim was transported to a local hospital and was listed in stable condition on Thursday afternoon, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported.
TPD Lieutenant Manuel Munoz said the fatal shooting stemmed from a domestic disturbance.
The victims’ identities were not immediately released.
A “person of interest” in the homicide was quickly identified and area law enforcement officers from multiple agencies banned together to search for him, Chief Wheeles told The Topeka Capital-Journal.
Kansas Bureau of Investigation (KBI) Communications Director Melissa Underwood said that officers spotted 33-year-old Missouri resident Eric Perkins driving a silver 2004 Toyota Corolla near Irvingham and S.E. Girard at approximately 10:45 a.m. on Thursday and attempted to pull him over.
But Perkins allegedly refused to stop and led police on a chase at a “high rate of speed” through multiple neighborhoods, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported.
“During the chase, Perkins began firing in the direction of pursuing officers,” Underwood said. “Gunfire was returned by officers on several occasions during the pursuit.”
The chase continued on into Downtown Topeka and ended when the suspect crashed into a fire hydrant near S. Kansas Avenue and SW 6th Avenue, WIBW reported.
Investigators said Perkins continued to fire at police after the collision.
One officer was hit by the suspect’s gunfire and was rushed to a local hospital.
“The suspect continued to fire weapons at the pursuing officers throughout the pursuit, to its conclusion,” Chief Wheeles confirmed, according to The Topeka Capital-Journal. “Many police vehicles and one officer were struck by gunfire.”
Officers returned fire, striking the suspect and bringing the incident to an end.
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Perkins was rushed to a local hospital and was listed in serious condition late Thursday night, Underwood told The Topeka Capital-Journal.
“He is being guarded by law enforcement,” Chief Wheeles confirmed. “He poses no additional risk to the community at this time.”
His passenger, a 38-year-old female, was transported to the hospital and has since been listed in good condition.
Her identity was not immediately released.
The unidentified officer who was wounded during the attack was wearing body armor, which Chief Wheeles said “took the majority of the impact of the round” and prevented more serious injuries, according to The Topeka Capital-Journal.
The officer was treated at the hospital and released to continue his recovery at home, WIBW reported.
His identity was not immediately released.
The KBI is handling the ongoing investigation into the incident, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported.
“The KBI will conduct a thorough and independent investigation into this incident,” Underwood confirmed. “Once completed, the findings will be turned over to the Shawnee County district attorney for review.
According to Kansas Department of Corrections records, Perkins previously served time in prison for a 2014 fleeing or attempting to elude a law enforcement officer.
Underwood said it is believed that one Shawnee County sheriff’s deputy and nine TPD officers exchanged gunfire with Perkins during the incident, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported.
They have all been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation, as per protocol.
Chief Wheeles said he is thankful that more people weren’t injured during the violent series of events, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported.
“This was a chaotic episode that was the result of a violent suspect who displayed extreme indifference to the life and safety of those within my community,” the chief said. “His actions were without regard for anyone else other than himself.”
Investigators identified multiple crime scenes along the route of the pursuit in the wake of the officer-involved shooting, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported.
Bullets riddled multiple vehicles and several windows at Townsite Plaza on S.E. 6th Avenue were also shattered by gunfire, according to the paper.
Chief Wheeles praised the multiagency law enforcement response to the incident, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported.
“There has been a tremendous outpouring of support from the community to the police department, and I am grateful for all who have reached out,” he added.