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Man With Explosives Strapped To Body Shot Outside Courthouse

March 24, 1987

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) _ A man who came to the Reno County Courthouse with explosives strapped to his body was shot dead Monday as he walked away from the building after a 90- minute standoff, authorities said.

J.D. Jennings, 32, of Nickerson, was scheduled for trial Monday on a charge of resisting arrest, stemming from an incident involving his landlord, authorities said. The courthouse was evacuated after Jennings told two detectives who confronted him at the door that he had a bomb.

Tim Chambers, county prosecuting attorney, said that as Jennings tried to leave about 11 a.m., a police officer across the street on a store roof shot and killed him.

″I think the matter was handled very professionally and I don’t think it could have been done any other way,″ said Chambers. He said the decision to shoot Jennings was made by himself, Sheriff Jim Fountain and Police Chief Jack Heidebrecht.

″This decision was made strictly in the interest of public safety,″ said Heidebrecht. ″We could not let this person leave that area with those explosives on his body.″

Several months ago, Jennings came to court carrying a knife, some .44- caliber Magnum bullets and a toy gun, Chambers said.

According to Chambers, the sheriff’s department received information two weeks ago that Jennings would be armed when he came to court, and two sheriff’s detectives were waiting for him.

Chambers said Jennings told the detectives he had a bomb, and they tried to persuade him to surrender. The discussion continued just inside the door and on the steps of the building, he said.

″At this time a decision was made on behalf of public safety that Mr. Jennings should not leave the area because of what appeared to be a bomb upon his person,″ Chambers said.

Police Officer Ray Sprinkle, stationed on the roof across the street, was instructed by radio to open fire as Jennings walked away from the building. He fired three times, striking Jennings once, officials said.

Chambers said investigators found two bombs attached to Jennings, ″each wired to switches that he held in his hand.″

Chambers said a suicide note and some guns were found in Jennings’ truck.

Jennings said in the note that he went to the courthouse knowing he would not leave alive and that he would rather die than go to jail, according to a statement released by investigating authorities.

The note indicated Jennings had been depressed for some time, the statement said.

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