Man fatally shot after holding woman hostage, firing at authorities

Posted: Updated:
UDALL, Kan. (KAKE) -

Authorities have identified the 25-year-old man killed by officers after he repeatedly fired at them during a south-central Kansas chase.

The pursuit began in Wichita and ended near Udall. Charles Scott Johnston, 25, was allegedly holding a woman hostage prior to running and firing at officers. He was then shot and killed. 

Wichita Police Chief Gordon Ramsay, Sedgwick County Sheriff Jeff Easter and Sumner County Sheriff Darren Chambers held a joint news conference Thursday afternoon to provide a timeline of events.

Chief Ramsay said it began when officers were watching a home in the 1900 block of West Rita in southwest Wichita. He said Johnston was a parole absconder.

Man killed by officers was involved in deadly shooting last year

"Officers had been recently attempting to locate and arrest the suspect and had tried previously on other occasions," Chief Ramsay said. 

At around 11:30 p.m., officers observed a silver 2017 Chevy Cruz leave the residence and believed the suspect was inside. They attempted to stop the car at Pawnee and Seneca. It took off eastbound. 

At 11:51, Sedgwick County deputies took over primary on the pursuit near 79th Street South and Hydraulic. 

Sheriff Easter said a vehicle equipped with a Starchase GPS tracker was attempting to deploy one of the devices onto the suspect's car when Johnston fired at the deputy.

The pursuit continued through portions of Butler and Cowley counties and into Sumner County. At K-15 and Geuda Springs Road, near Udall, the suspect fired at law enforcement again. Shortly after that, the car became disabled and stopped in the middle of K-15, Easter said. 

"At that point, a female came out of the passenger side first with her hands up," Easter said. "The male came out, grabbed a hold of her and held a gun to her head. The suspect fired at least two rounds while holding the female hostage and then turned and ran."

No officers had fired shots until he ran and fired at officers again. Officers returned fire at 12:10 a.m., striking Johnston. He died at the scene.

Sheriff Easter said Johnston had a handgun with an extended magazine that would hold 22 rounds.

Easter said Johnston and the woman knew each other and that investigators believe Johnston "was in the passenger seat during the entire car chase."

It's not yet known if the woman, 27-year-old Erin Cooper, will face charges related to the incident. She's currently jailed on $5,000 bond in Sedgwick County for failure to appear and a probation violation. 

Kansas Department of Corrections records show Johnston was listed as a parole absconder on April 5. He was last released from prison on January 13 of this year and has prior convictions of aggravated battery, obstruction and fleeing law enforcement. 

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Sedgwick, Sumner and Cowley County authorities are working together to investigate the details of a deadly officer-involved shooting during a police chase that spanned at least three south-central Kansas counties late Wednesday into Thursday.

Sheriff Jeff Easter told KAKE news it started at around 11:50 p.m. in the 1200 block of West Pawnee when a Wichita police officer spotted a suspect with an active warrant. The 25-year-old suspect, identified as Charles Scott Johnston, fled.

A special unit was called in to assist. It included a patrol car designed to shoot GPS tracking devices on to vehicles so officers do not have to physically chase a suspect, preventing dangerous chase scenarios.

As soon as that cruiser was close enough to the suspect to fire the GPS tracker, Sheriff Easter says the passenger in the vehicle began firing at officers. No officers were hurt

"So the chase became a little bit more intense at that point," Sheriff Jeff Easter said. "It lasted for quite some time." 

The chase eventually came to an end near the Sumner-Cowley County line, northwest of Udall.

Sheriff Darren Chambers with the Sumner County Sheriff's Office said when the suspect's vehicle came to a stop, the suspect got out and fired more shots at authorities. They returned fire, killing the suspect. 

There was a woman inside the vehicle as well. Sheriff Chambers said authorities are talking to her to try to figure out what was going on inside the vehicle during the chase. 

"We're having some speculation on them playing different roles within the vehicle and that's where we gotta do our interviews downtown and make that determination as to what roles each of them played while they were in this vehicle," Sheriff Chambers said.

The woman was not hurt. The three agencies working the scene expect to release more information Thursday afternoon after having a chance to run through body cam and dash cam evidence to piece together a timeline of what happened. 

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