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Bewildering for KC police: Only handful of people have come forward about deadly Westport shooting

KANSAS CITY, Mo. --  Police say that while more than 200 people were inside Californos restaurant Sunday night in Westport when an off-duty Lee's Summit police officer was killed, only a handful have come forward to help them find the killer.

Thirty-year-old Thomas Orr, III was off-duty, attending a young professional's party at Californos restaurant when he was shot and killed. The event had ended at 8 p.m., but many remained and mingled.

Witness say two men, not Orr, got into an argument on the back patio of the restaurant. One of them pulled a gun and began shooting. One of the bullets hit and killed Officer Orr.

Lee's Summit Officer Thomas Orr

 

"I heard at least three gunshots. Everybody started running and making their way to the exit. I was pushed towards the exit, but then I turned back around and headed back into the gunfire to find out what was actually going on? When I went back in I found a young lady injured and three people were tending to her and then I saw the young man slumped over on the floor," recalls Chris Johnson, 39, who was also at the restaurant for the professionals' meeting.

Chris Johnson

He spotted the only bleeding victim; Orr was slumped over on the floor.

"I noticed one bullet wound to the right shoulder. The back, right shoulder," Johnson said.

Johnson is an author, a scientist, and a Kansas City-native who was on vacation from Los Angeles.

He says a Westport security officer handed him a pocket knife.

"I took it and I cut the young man's shirt off to make sure I didn't see any usual wounds on his front torso," said Johnson.

Johnson says he screamed for help and several other patrons ran over, grabbed ice-filled towels and applied pressure to Orr's wound.

"As one of the young ladies was holding pressure on the wound, I had another young man helping me by patting the towel and ice," Johnson said. "He was looking at us, so I had eye contact and I said, 'You stay with me! You just stay with me!'"

But Chris Johnson says Officer Orr died in his arms.

"As soon as I let his hand go, rather, his wrist go, that's when I believe he faded out. It hurts me to reflect on it.  I'm now getting all these phone calls and people are telling me how brave I am and I don't believe I was brave because we lost him. I  just was doing what any human should do. We all should care for each other. I just wanted to save his life," adds Johnson, who spent several hours at the shooting scene talking to Kansas City police officers about what he remembers about the shooting, a shooting Johnson will never forget.

Thomas Orr, III is a graduate of Lincoln University in St. Joseph, Missouri and a member of the Omega Psi Phi fraternity.  Orr dedicated his life to public service as a Marshall, Mo., police officer, then in 2015, he moved to the Lee's Summit police department,  assigned as the school resource officer at Bernard Campbell Middle School.

"He was very passionate about kids, being someone who can be a positive role model," said friend and fraternity brother Brandon Kendrick. "That was the biggest thing, being able to be a voice to do what's right and he was proud of the job he was doing."

Lee's Summit Police Chief Travis Forbes echoed Kendrick's sentiment in a message he sent out Monday, saying, "Officer Orr was someone who truly wanted to make a positive difference in this world. What a loss to our community and society."

If you were there at Californos in Westport Sunday night or have any information about the man who pulled the gun, police want to hear from you.

"We need details. We need for your viewers to call us. We want them to understand that we are here to protect them," said Sgt. Kari Thompson, KCMO Police spokesperson.

"I felt so sad because that officer lost his life. Again, I just tried to save his life not knowing he was a police officer. One officer did comfort me a bit when he said "thank you for all you did," says Johnson.

Police said the suspect -- described as a tall, light-skinned black male with a very muscular build -- with three other man fled the scene after the shooting.

Anyone who has any information that can help police with the Orr shooting investigation is urged to call the TIPS HOTLINE at (816) 474-T.I.P.S (8477.)

A woman was also shot in the arm and is expected to recover.  Police say she was also an innocent bystander and was not involved in the disturbance.

The Lee's Summit School District issued the following statement about Orr:

"We are heartbroken by the tragic loss of Officer Orr. During his brief time as a school resource officer at Bernard Campbell Middle School, he impressed our staff with his positive attitude and his focus on students. In just three short days with students last week, he was already making connections and building rapport."

This letter was sent out to parents Monday morning from the LS School District.

Dear BCMS Families,

We have some tragic news to share with you about one of our school staff members. Officer Thomas Orr, our school’s resource officer, passed away Sunday evening as a result of a random shooting in Kansas City. Officer Orr was new to our school and had been working with students since the first week of school. Despite his brief tenure at BCMS, he had impressed staff by quickly establishing rapport with our students. We will miss his positive attitude and focus on students.

On Tuesday, we will have additional counselors available at our school to work with students and staff members as needed. Young people may deal with loss in many different ways including feeling sad, "clinging" to other adults or friends, fearing the loss of others close to them, and eating or sleeping disturbances. Information about helping children cope with grief is included on the R-7 website at http://www.lsr7.net by selecting "Parents" and then "Parenting Information."