KANSAS CITY, Mo. — He was off duty and in flip flops, but one KC police officer’s quick actions likely saved lives.
Kansas City Police Chief Richard Smith presented Officer John King a Distinguished Service Medal on Tuesday for stopping a woman who fired a shot at a Department of Motor Vehicles office in the Northland.
The incident occurred in July while King was off-duty with his wife and baby.
“As we are pulling up, we see everyone sprinting out of the back, and we’re like that’s not normal,” King said.
King had on shorts, a t-shirt and flip flops, but he knew he had to try to help.
“I didn’t know what was going on, but I knew I didn’t want them to be close enough to find out what it was.”
He’d learn from Tom Hutsler, a customer who had been inside the DMV, that the scare involved an upset woman.
“She was cussing at the staff and she was upset about the wait time,” Hutsler told FOX4 shortly after the incident.
Despite her claims, it was a matter of national security the woman later identified as Vanessa Richey was told she’d have to wait. She knocked a printer off the counter and allegedly told an employee she was going to get a gun and stormed out of the office.
“He’s yelling, ‘You need to get out of here. There’s a lady with a gun. She just fired shots,'” King said of his first interaction with Hutsler.
Richey had returned to her car. King called police dispatch and requested police backup.
But then things changed quickly for the off-duty officer in his flip flops when she exited her vehicle with her purse. He drew his firearm and identified himself as a police officer. He commanded the woman to put the purse down and get on the ground, but she refused and continued to head back to the DMV.
King and Hutsler combined to tackle the woman and hold her down until more police arrived.
Richey was later charged with discharge of a firearm.
King said, like many officers, he carries an off-duty weapon often just in case. He said he had started to think about not taking it everywhere with him, but after that trip to the DMV, he’ll never leave home without it.