LEAVENWORTH, Kan. — The Chief of Police for the Leavenworth Police Dept. revealed Saturday morning in a news conference that a five-year-old little girl named Cadence Harris was the child who was killed Friday night after she was allegedly kidnapped and shot when her alleged kidnapper fled from police and exchanged gunfire with them.
Chief Patrick Kitchens also told reporters that the suspect and the child did have some kind of acquaintance with each other, but would not elaborate on the nature of that relationship. Cadence lived in Atchison, where police say the events started.
Around 7:30 p.m. on Friday authorities began pursuing the vehicle driven by the kidnapping suspect. When the suspect drove the white SUV across state lines into Kansas with the child inside, Leavenworth Police took over for the Platte County Sheriff’s Department and continued the pursuit.
The suspect drove west on Highway 7, near 16th and Metropolitan until he hit some construction, which disabled his vehicle. The suspect then got out of his SUV and fired at officers, who returned gunfire, hitting the man several times and wounding him. He was taken to a hospital in Kansas City, and he is expected to survive.
Chief Kitchens was asked if there was any possibility that police gunfire accidentally hit Cadence, killing her. Initially it was reported that the suspect intentionally shot and killed the little girl at the scene, but police now say they are working to determine the source of her fatal gunshot wound.
“The answer to the question is, ‘No,’ we’re not sure in reporting anything. What we’re going to do is go through the scene very clearly. There’s a difference between going through a crime scene at night and during the day. A lot more information is made available when the technicians can see and they can get a better sense,” he said.
“What I can tell you definitively is, on the videotape, he pointed his weapon at the officers,” Kitchens said.
He also emphasized that there’s much work to be done to determine when she was shot. It’s possible she could have been killed earlier.
“It’s not as certain as what was being reported last night, which is that it happened there. We’re still working on a lot of those details. Whenever you have multiple jurisdictions, multiple states; you have the officer-involved shooting component, we have a lot of work to do on clearing up all of the details,” he said.
Kitchens said the two officers involved in the shooting would be getting psychological help to deal with the tragedy.
“It’s just devastating and we have a lot of work to do and we have a lot of attention to give to our officers as they struggle to deal with this,” he said.
When asked why an Amber Alert was never issued, police said there was little time to make that determination about whether it met criteria. The kidnapping and pursuit and shootout unfolded very quickly.
Police said they have a series of meetings throughout the day with prosecutors to determine the appropriate charges against the suspect.