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Suspect who shot deputies dies

August 29, 2018

MANKATO, Kan.— A man suspected of shooting and wounding two Kansas deputies Tuesday and then turning the gun on himself has died, leaving investigators to try to unravel a motive for the shooting.

One of the wounded deputies has been released from the hospital, and the other is out of surgery and in stable condition. Authorities have declined to release any names until relatives are notified.

Jason L. Whitson of Mankato, 40, walked up to the dispatch desk at the Jewell County Sheriff’s Office at about 7:53 a.m. and requested to talk to a deputy, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation said in a news release. As a deputy approached to speak with him, Whitson fired multiple times through a door that led to the dispatch room. No law enforcement officers fired their weapons.

Whitson then fled from the office. Sheriff’s office personnel recognized Whitson, setting off a search for him and the vehicle he was presumed to be driving, the KBI said.

Jewell County Attorney Darrell Miller said in a phone interview that Whitson does not have a criminal history in the county, and the Kansas Bureau of Investigation is trying to determine what led to the shooting.

“At this point it is just really a mystery, Miller said. “There really wasn’t an altercation, in neither one of those instances. He just walked in and essentially opened fire.”

A Kansas Highway Patrol trooper spotted Whitson’s vehicle at 8:45 a.m. about 35 miles southeast of Mankato and pursued him for another 20 miles. The vehicle stopped just south of Minneapolis where a woman and five minor children were allowed to exit before Whitson took off again.

A trooper used a maneuver that forced the vehicle to stop, and troopers found him inside it, suffering from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. No law enforcement officers at this scene fired their weapons, the KBI said.

Whitson was taken to a hospital in Salina and pronounced dead there.

Law enforcement initially blockaded the roads surrounding the sheriff’s office and courthouse Tuesday as the investigation began.

Yellow striped tape cordoned off the crime scene at the sheriff’s office as investigators collected evidence using a mobile crime lab.

Spectators flocked to the area as news of the shooting made its way across social media, but whittled down as the afternoon wore on. By Tuesday evening, the mobile lab was gone and the barricades removed.

Mankato is about 150 miles north of Wichita.

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