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WICHITA, Kan. --A letter found tacked to a laundry room bulletin board last week claimed credit for shooting a police officer March 25 in downtown Wichita -- and contains threats to shoot several more officers.
While police regularly receive threats, police officials said the letter contained details about the shooting that have not been made public.
"We do have to take it seriously," Lt. Jeff Easter said Wednesday. "In the 18 years I have been here I have not seen this type of threatening letter come in like this."
Officers have been placed on heightened alert.
"It's a letter that directly threatens officers," Deputy Chief Tom Stolz said. "He indicates he's not finished yet."
Because there's a chance the person could fire at an officer and hit someone else instead, it's also "a public safety issue," Stolz said.
The letter was brought to the Patrol East substation at 5:50 a.m. May 7 by a man who said he found it tacked to a bulletin board of a laundry room at the Village Park at Cedarbrooke apartment complex, 8406 E. Harry, police said.
The letter writer "does claim to have shot the officer in downtown Wichita" on March 25, Easter said. "There is evidence within this letter that we believe indicates that this person knows a lot about that shooting."
An off-duty police officer was shot while he was working security at Wichita Area Technical College's central campus, 324 N. Emporia.
He was patrolling an alley when he was hit by a small-caliber bullet. It was deflected by the lapel microphone clipped to his chest, and he was not injured.
Authorities closed off downtown streets and conducted an extensive search but found no suspects.
The officer has since returned to active duty.
Nothing in the letter indicated the officer was specifically targeted, Easter said.
"We believe it was just because he was a police officer," he said. "I believe it's a Wichita police officer they're trying to target, no particular officer."
Officials say it's possible the letter is a hoax, but they are taking the threat seriously.
"So much of what we do is adversarial," Stolz said. For some people, he said, "this is how they react" after they have been arrested or ticketed or admonished by police.
Officials said they do not know how long the letter had been tacked to the bulletin board. They did not want to divulge details of the letter for fear of inciting copycat letters or placing officers at greater risk.
The letter has been processed for fingerprints and other evidence, Stolz said. People who live near where the letter was found have been questioned, but police have no suspects.
The person who brought the letter to police has been cleared as a suspect, Stolz said.
Wichita police officers and Sedgwick County sheriff's officers have been placed on heightened alert.
"We encourage officers to wait for your backup on calls, do the minimum amount of work out there solo, have your partner in tow with you," Stolz said.
While those measures are taught from the earliest days of academy training, Stolz said, incidents such as this are a reminder why those procedures are in place.
"You have to make sure they're aware that people are out there that want to hurt us," Easter said.
Reach Stan Finger at 316-268-6437 or email@example.com.