WICHITA, Kan. (AP, KSNT) — A man suspected in the shooting of a Kansas Department of Revenue employee in Wichita was under investigation by the agency and owed nearly $400,000 in unpaid taxes, according to police and records.
The 51-year-old suspect, Ricky T. Wirths was booked into jail on suspicion of attempted first-degree murder after tax agent Cortney Holloway was shot several times around 2:40 p.m. Tuesday inside the taxation side of a state office building, The Wichita Eagle reports. Holloway was in serious condition.
According to the Kansas Department of Revenue (KDOR), Wirths has two tax warrants filed against him: one against him and one against his business, Rick Wirths Construction, located at 918 W. 35th St. in Wichita. One tax warrant amounts to $196,455.36 in unpaid sales tax. The other warrant amounts to $198,250.02 for unpaid consumers compensating use tax.
Wichita police Officer Charley Davidson said the shooting didn’t appear to be random and that Holloway had been involved in an investigation of the suspect. Holloway, 35, works in the tax compliance division, where employees often are required to seize property to pay back taxes.
Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback said in a statement that Holloway was “doing his job” and asked the public to pray for him and his family.
KDOR said when performing an asset seizure, tax agents are always accompanied by local law enforcement.
“Asset seizure is the very last resort,” said Revenue Secretary Sam Williams. “Our agents work tirelessly in good faith with the taxpayer to try to set up payment plans. If those efforts fail repeatedly, we have to comply with Kansas law to recover those debts.”
The suspect, who was being held without bond, was arrested about half an hour after the shooting, police Sgt. Chad Beard said. He was stopped by law enforcement officers down the street from his house. Revenue Department employees and deputies from the Sedgwick County sheriff’s Civil Section had gone to a residence in the area earlier while investigating the suspect.
Dave Hiegel, who said he has known the suspect for 22 years, said his friend did dirt work with his father, installed windows for a few years and most recently had done parking lot and pavement sealing.
“I guess he was losing everything,” Hiegel said. “That would be hard to swallow.”
Robert Choromanski, executive director of the Kansas Organization of State Employees, said workers who were in the office at the time of the shooting described the scene to him. He said there were bullet holes in cubicle walls and that employees were badly shaken. He said there was no security for workers inside the facility and that they had complained about that to management.
“There’s nobody to screen you to see if you have any weapons on you,” Choromanski said. “There’s no metal detector, nothing. You just walk in.”