Police in Kansas shoot suicidal teen 16 times
Ottawa, KS (CNN) — Authorities say an 18-year-old man was shot and killed by police officers and sheriff’s deputies Saturday evening outside an Ottawa hardware store.
Ottawa police were called about 7:50 p.m. Saturday to Orscheln Farm and Home at 2008 S. Princeton St. on a report of a person reportedly armed with a gun.
Deputies with the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office also responded to the call.
When officers arrived, they made contact with the person, later identified as Joseph Jennings, in the parking lot.
During the encounter, officers with the Ottawa Police Department and Franklin County Sheriff’s Office were involved in a shooting.
Jennings was treated at the scene for gunshot wounds and transported to an Ottawa hospital where he later died.
“Why did it take them shooting him 16 times at least for them to bring him down and go and take care of what they needed to take care of,” Jennings’ aunt, Brandy Smith, said.
Ottawa Police Chief Dennis Butler said officers did what they were trained to do.
“They reacted based upon the training that they’ve been given from the academy,” Butler said. “We were thankful that no officer was injured from protecting themselves from risk of great bodily harm.”
Family members said Jennings had big dreams. He was starting school Monday for underwater welding. He also loved to ride his motorcycle.
“He was a really good boy,” Smith said.
But his life wasn’t perfect.
“He was suffering from depression, seizures and anxiety,” Smith said.
Smith said his seizures were getting worse in the last month, and with no relief in sight, he had begun feeling suicidal.
Two days before he was shot and killed, Jennings expressed his anguish on Facebook.
“Tonight is the night goodbye everyone!!!!! It was truly a good ride! And I’m sorry for who I might of hurted (sic) and people that I may of offended, But I love all my family and I hope you don’t hold this against me,” Jennings wrote.
Ten minutes later, according to family members, Jennings swallowed 60 pills trying to take his life.
“The two cops that was involved in the shooting was also there when they took him to Ransom Memorial Hospital for overdosing,” Smith said.
Jennings had survived the overdose, but only three hours after leaving the hospital, he walked to Orscheln Farm and Home.
Smith said he was there on a suicide mission. But when she saw what was happening she ran from her home to try to intervene.
“I told them it is Joseph Jennings. He is suicidal. He is upset, don’t shoot him,” she said.
Smith’s husband also tried to help.
“My husband was going to tackle him. He was within arms reach. They said to get back or they were going to shoot him,” Smith said.
Smith says her husband backed off and police attention turned back to Jennings.
“The cop yelled out, ‘bag him,’ and then three shots were fired with the bags. I just don’t know how many shots were fired. They shot him in the back of the leg and the back of the shoulder,” Smith said.
As a matter of policy, the police department requested assistance from the Kansas Bureau of Investigation. The KBI is now handling the investigation.
Officers involved in the shooting were placed on administrative leave while the KBI conducts the investigation, which is standard protocol.