OLATHE, Kan. — An Olathe man tells FOX 4 that he wishes his girlfriend would have put her gun down when police showed up at a home on Wednesday to take her back to jail. Ciara Howard was 26 years old, serving time for a theft charge and on work release, but failed to return to the jail in Gardner.
Instead she went to her boyfriend’s house east of downtown Olathe, where after a standoff, Howard was shot and killed. FOX 4’s Shannon O’Brien talked to Howard’s boyfriend about the tragic end to her life.
Larry Sumners says he didn’t realize Howard had walked away from jail, he thought she was out on a day pass. They arrived back to his house from the store, ready to cook out when they got unexpected visitors.
“As soon as we close the door, someone knocked on the door and I opened it and it was the cops,” Sumners told FOX 4 during an exclusive interview.
The cops were looking for Howard, and once she found out police were there for her, Sumner says she hid in his bedroom with a gun.
“And that is what she was screaming that she didn’t want to go back to jail,” Sumners said.
Police spent several hours trying to talk Howard out of the house. When that didn’t work, they asked Sumners to help. From outside, he pleaded with his girlfriend through the bedroom window.
“I was just telling her to put the gun down and come outside and sit with me for a few minutes, and then just go finish her time because she didn’t have that much left,” he said.
“I told her I was not going to leave her. I thought I almost had her put but I guess not.”
At one point, Howard began threatening to kill herself, and that is when police went in. It was the last time Sumner would her voice.
“They really didn’t have to tell me because I heard all of the gunshots and they ran, they wouldn’t let me see what was going on. They put me in the car and the ambulance came and they were in there at least 20 minutes, nobody ever came out,” he said.
“I don’t think she would have shot at a person, I think she shot at the dog, so the officer shot at her. If the cops come over and you have a gun, put it down.”
Two Olathe police officers and a Johnson County sheriff’s deputy shot, and Howard died. She was in jail for a 2016 theft conviction and had prior convictions, including domestic battery and escape from custody. Sumner says while she had a rough past, the couple was looking forward to their future together.
“Cause I loved her, she was my girlfriend,” he said.
Sumners has children who live with him part-time. He says he`s relieved they were with their mom when the incident and shooting happened.