Parents of murdered Olathe teen left heartbroken, pushing for gun violence awareness

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. – There are still no charges in the death of 17-year-old Rowan Padgett, who was shot and killed Friday, though police say they’ve made an arrest in the case.

Padgett would have been 18 years old in two weeks. He was set to graduate high school soon after and had several job offers in sales. But his future was stolen in an instant by the squeeze of a trigger.

“We’re living with Rowan’s death,” his stepfather Thomas Pond said. “And there’s a kid, he made a stupid decision, and that stupid decision became permanent because he had a gun.”

It was Friday afternoon when Padgett’s mother and stepfather got a call from their son who’s studying in France. He saw social media posts that Padgett had been shot.

“And said you know, ‘Is Rowan OK?’ and we didn’t know. And I kept trying to call him, and he wasn’t there,” his mother Semie Rogers said. “Slow-motion horror just gradually sinking in.”

That horror became reality when police showed up at their front door with the news Padgett was dead — and it’s still sinking in.

Rowan Padgett

“World of emotions,” Rogers said, of her feelings after hearing the tragic news. “Everything from when he was born to the last time I hugged him goodbye and he told me ‘I love you.’”

His parents said Padgett was a funny kid who grew up on track for a career in sales.

A future employer wrote on social media: “So much potential and excitement for life. I am heartbroken that we lost this young man with so much potential.”

“I feel like there’s a door where it closed on Friday, and Rowan is on one side of it, and we’re all just going forward on the other side of it,” Rogers said. “And he will always stay there, and he will always be the impish, creative, funny, goofy, trouble-making, ridiculous kid. And he’ll never have a chance to grow into that wonderful, loving, funny, caring adult that he would have become.”

Police aren’t releasing any information about the case other than to say they were “in contact” with 18-year-old Matthew Bibee Jr. on Sunday as part of Padgett’s death investigation.

Sources say that contact was at 127th and Arapahoe in Olathe. A viewer sent pictures of a man that sources say is Biebee being arrested after shooting at police.

While swimming in their own grief, Padgett’s parents are also thinking of the suspect’s family, who they said are victims of gun violence as well.

“I know you tried. I know you didn’t want this to happen, and I’m sorry for your loss,” Pond said. “I’m sorry for my loss, and I’m sorry for your loss. Guns took our children away from us.”

As of Monday evening, no one has been charged in this case.

Although they can’t bring him back, Padgett’s parents are taking control of what they can and that’s to raise awareness about gun violence and gun safety. His family is raising money to donate to the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence. If you would like to participate, you can donate here.

His mother said she’s doing that to save another mother from going through the grief she’s now feeling.



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