TOPEKA (KSNT) – The Shawnee County Sheriff’s Office has released the name of Cpl. Jason Harwood as the officer shot and killed in the line of duty Sunday evening. It happened during a traffic stop shortly before 5 p.m.. Harwood is a 15 year veteran of the force with a wife and two sons. Flags outside of the Law Enforcement Center in downtown Topeka are flying at half staff.
In a press conference, Sheriff Herman Jones said 30-year-old Ross Preston Lane, that the man suspected of shooting and killing Harwood was arrested in Lawrence. He will be brought back to Topeka for questioning. Lane was brought to the Shawnee County jail and booked in around 4:15am. He is being held on a capital murder charge. Ridens was booked in about 30 minutes earlier.
The sheriff’s office, which is handling the investigation into Harwood’s death, says a second man whom they believe might have information on the shooting was booked into the county jail Monday.
Sheriff Jones said, “We will be grieving. We have experienced this far too often.”, clearly referring to the deaths of two Topeka officers in a shooting in December of 2012. He asked that people keep the Harwood family and the Topeka Police Department in their thoughts and prayers. Interim Police Chief Tony Kirk said, “We are going to rally around each other [to get through this].” He asked that people respect the family and his officers during this difficult time.
Shawnee County Undersheriff Terry Maple says there was a 911 call just before 4:45 p.m. Sunday of an officer needing assistance near the intersection of 6th & Deer Creek Parkway in East Topeka.
In the release, Maple says the officer had stopped a car near the intersection and during the course of the car stop one or more occupants of the car fired a weapon striking the officer and then fled the scene.
Officers responded to the call to help the critically wounded officer who was treated on the scene then taken to Stormont Vail Hospital where he later died.
Police say witnesses on the scene indicated there may have been three people in the vehicle that left the scene in a blue or green four-door passenger car.
They later identified the chief suspect in the shooting as 30-year-old Ross Preston Lane who police took into custody in Lawrence without further incident. He’s being held in the Lawrence jail and will be transferred to the Shawnee County jail for further questioning.
The 40-year old Harwood joined the Topeka Police force on June 28, 1999 where he served as a member of the “Hit-and-Run” unit and the K-9 Unit before being promoted to Corporal in May, 2012.
A makeshift memorial was seen at the Fallen Officer Memorial at the Topeka Law Enforcement Center, and The Kansas Highway Patrol later tweeted “Thoughts & prayers with the entire @Topeka_Police Department & the family & friends of the officer killed tonight.”
Shortly after 7:30 tonight the Fraternal Order of Police Auxiliary held an impromptu prayer service. About 30 people gathered at the Fallen Officer Memorial at the Shawnee County Law Enforcement Center.
The group came out and prayed together, left a few roses, went behind the building for a few minutes and then later came back out to gather around the memorial once again. At least one uniformed officer joined them.
Topeka Mayor Larry Wolgast released the following statement Monday afternoon. “I wish to express deep condolences on behalf of the City of Topeka to the family of Cpl. Jason Harwood and to his fellow officers. The loss of one who dedicated himself to serving and protecting the people of this city is a devastating blow to the entire community.”
That so many people, without hesitation, stopped to assist Cpl. Harwood as he lay mortally wounded is a testament to how Topekans reach out and pull together in times of crisis.
We grieve as a community, too, so let us reach out and pull tight around Cpl. Harwood’s wife, his two sons, and his law enforcement family.
Additionally, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt released the following statement late Sunday night. “Once again, our hearts are broken by unspeakable loss in the law enforcement community,” he writes. “My thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of Corporal Jason Harwood.”
The ongoing investigation into the shooting is being handled by the Shawnee County Sheriff’s Office. Read more about the Topeka Police Department’s fallen officers here.