KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The man accused of shooting and killing an off-duty Lee's Summit police officer in Westport more than a year ago pleaded guilty to second-degree murder on Wednesday. Sean Steward, 23, was on trial for killing Thomas Orr III, making his plea after it began on Tuesday.
Orr, III, 30, was an innocent bystander, attending a young professionals party on August 20, 2017 at Californos restaurant in Westport when he was shot and killed.
The Jackson County Prosecutor's Office offered Steward an 18-year prison sentence in exchange for guilty pleas to the following charges: second-degree murder, first-degree assault, three counts of armed criminal action, one count of unlawful use of a weapon, and one count of unlawful possession of a weapon.
Lee's Summit Police Chief Travis Forbes provided this statement following the plea:
"I want to thank the Jackson County Prosecutor's Office and KCPD for their hard work in Thomas Orr's case. I know that they put a lot of time and resources into the effort.
Obviously, there is no amount of justice that will account for the life that a man like Thomas Orr lived. His contributions to our community will never be forgotten. Like many victims of this senseless type of crime, we wish we could have him back.
My thoughts today are with Thomas's family, our community, and our family at LSPD. Rest in peace, Thomas."
According to witnesses, the shooting occurred after one man struck another in the face, causing him to fall to the floor. One witness said Steward then fired into the crowd. Another witness told police that several people at the party told her that Steward fired the shots that killed Orr III and the woman injured by a gun shot.
Police said there were about 200 people in the area when the shooting happened. Investigators found photos on social media, and photos from the party, identifying Steward as the suspect. Police investigating a separate incident arrested him about a month after the shooting.
Orr III began working with the Lee's Summit Police Department in March of 2015. Prior to that he worked for the Marshall, Mo., Police Department.