A Kansas sheriff’s deputy was gunned down on Sunday, according to investigators. Sedgwick County Deputy Robert Kunze III, 41, was responding to a call about a suspicious man when he was shot.
According to Fox News, the officer had approached the armed suspect before engaging in a physical altercation. At some point, the suspect discharged their weapon and Kunze was fatally wounded. When more officers arrived, they discovered both Kunze and the suspect has been shot. The officer was rushed to the hospital but was pronounced dead a short time later.
“Tragedy has struck the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office,” Sheriff Jeff Easter said a press conference following the incident. “A family member of ours has been killed in the line of duty.”
“Robert was a great asset to the sheriff’s office,” Easter continued, adding that the officer was “an exceptional deputy who was loved by everyone he worked with.”
Easter said that Kunze “activated the emergency button on his portable radio,” shortly after arriving on the scene in the area of North 295th Street West and West 21st Street just south of Wichita, Kansas. According to the Kansas City Star, Kunze had reportedly patted down the suspect and removed a firearm from his waistband. However, when he attempted to handcuff the suspect, a fight ensued. It is still not clear which weapon fired the fatal shots. Kunze had been shot in the upper torso above his ballistic vest, while the suspect had wounds in his upper torso and waist.
“We will always remember him for his smile, his contagious laugh and his ability to engage anyone and everyone in a conversation,” Easter said. “Deputy Kunze will be absolutely missed, and we ask for you to please pray for him and his family. The Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office has suffered a great loss today, and a life-altering tragedy for Deputy Kunze’s family.”
The last officer from the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office to be killed was Deputy Brian Scott Etheridge, who was dead during an ambush Sept. 28, 2009.
Kunze was a 12-year veteran of the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office and was survived by his wife and daughter. Pray for them at this devastating time.