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Wellington Daily News - Wellington, KS
  • Newton police shoot domestic violence suspect

  • A domestic violence call turned deadly Thursday afternoon when a Newton Police officer shot a man who confronted the officer with an eight-to-nine inch-long hunting knife, authorities reported.
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  • By Jeff Guy
    Newton Kansan
    A domestic violence call turned deadly Thursday afternoon when a Newton Police officer shot a man who confronted the officer with an eight-to-nine inch-long hunting knife, authorities reported.
    Sonny Wagner, 52, was transported to Newton Medical Center where he was pronounced dead between 4:30 and 5 p.m. Thursday, Harvey County Sheriff T. Walton said.
    Police got a 911 call at 4:08 p.m. from Wagner's wife, Leona Wagner, 52, reporting her husband was battering her. An officer met her in the front yard of the couple's home at 2107 Single Tree Dr. in Prairie Estates mobile home park at 4:11 p.m., Walton said.
    The officer then went into the house where Sonny Wagner confronted him in the living room, brandishing a knife. There was less than 10 feet between the officer and Wagner, a "very confined space," Walton said. The officer told Wagner repeatedly to put the weapon down.
    "Wagner raised the knife up and moved forward toward the officer," Walton said. "The officer dispatched two rounds from a service firearm and Wagner collapsed to the floor."
    The officer fired both rounds into Wagner's chest. The distance between Wagner and the officer was "very close," Walton said. "He shot where he needed to shoot."
    The officer immediately called for an ambulance. Wagner was still holding the knife when he fell to the floor, Walton said.
    There were no other occupants in the home at the time of the shooting, Walton said. The officer was not injured and Leona Wagner did not require medical attention. Other officers were enroute to the scene at the time of the shooting.
    Police Chief Jim Daily said Wagner had been arrested for domestic violence on at least three previous occasions.
    When Leona Wagner called police, Sonny Wagner went to a back room of the house to retrieve his knife and reportedly said, "They better bring more than one 'cuz I'm not going to jail again."
    Walton said Wagner had been arrested for DUI's. He could not say whether Wagner was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the shooting.
    "We'll have to wait for toxicology reports," he said.
    Domestic violence calls are "probably the top safety issue for everyone involved," Walton said.
    Daily said this was the first domestic violence call in Newton to end with a suspect being shot to death since 2007.
    The officer who shot Wagner went through a debriefing with a psychologist and has been placed on administrative leave, pending an investigation by Newton police, the sheriff's office and the Kansas Bureau of Investigation - all "standard operating procedure."
    Page 2 of 2 - Authorities are not releasing the officer's name at this time.
    "This investigation will continue and at this time it's just not proper to release that officer's name," Walton said.
    Daily said the officer is experienced, having been with the NPD "right at 20 years."
    Harvey County Attorney David Yoder said his office and the Newton municipal court takes domestic violence cases "very seriously. We very strongly push prosecution of these cases."
    A coordinated community response team assists domestic violence victims, encourages them to get help, provides protection for them and helps them get out of the domestic violence setting, Yoder said.
    Police shootings have been in the national spotlight with the recent shooting by an officer of an unarmed African-American youth in Ferguson, Mo.
    "My answer to that is to make sure this investigation is completed in the proper fashion, that everything is done right and that's exactly what we're going to do," Walton said.

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