Topeka police found two people dead Friday afternoon inside an East Topeka town house where a standoff with a gunman began a little more than 16 hours earlier.
About an hour before the standoff ended, a woman in her 20s was rescued from the town house after waving to law enforcement officers from a second-story window, said Topeka Police Department spokeswoman Lt. Colleen Stuart.
Kansas Highway Patrol troopers brought a ladder to the town house and leaned it against the building for the woman to climb down, Stuart said. She said the woman was treated for exposure to tear gas, which was used during the standoff, then would be questioned by police.
Officers were called shortly before 10 p.m. Thursday to the town house at 3528 S.E. 7th after a woman was reported to have been shot. Police said the officers saw a woman was down, but they weren’t able to enter the house or check the extent of the woman’s injuries because shots were being fired at them.
No officers were hurt, Stuart said.
When police ultimately entered the town house about 1:40 p.m. Friday, they found the bodies of a man and woman inside. One was located on the first floor, and the other was on the upper floor, Stuart said.
A woman at the scene who said she was a lifelong friend of the dead man told a reporter he was Juan Lucio. Stuart confirmed to a reporter the man’s name and corrected the spelling of his last name, but said she couldn’t immediately confirm his age.
Police sent an email about 9 p.m. confirming Lucio’s name and age.
Lucio’s mother was being supported by friends as she wept outside the crime scene.
Police didn’t release the name of the woman who was rescued, nor did they release the name of the woman who was found dead inside the house.
Stuart said she didn’t know whether Lucio’s death was a suicide and that a police investigation and an examination by the Shawnee County coroner would determine his cause of death.
Law enforcement officers didn’t fire any shots during the standoff, Stuart said.
The standoff took place in a two-story building near the northeast corner of S.E. 7th and Brookside in Eastgate Town Homes, said Bette Allen, who identified herself as the owner of that property.
A tenant told Allen that a male acquaintance and two other people were in the town house Thursday evening when he heard gunshots. The tenant said he went to find out what was happening and saw a girl or young woman lying on the floor bleeding. He became afraid and left, Allen said.
After responding Thursday night, negotiators tried to make contact and briefly spoke with a person inside who threatened to shoot at first responders, Stuart said. The person continued to fire shots at first responders sporadically during the night and Friday morning, she said. That included a barrage of shots about 5 a.m.
Officers asked the public to stay away from the area, saying the incident was still active and “very dangerous.” A SWAT unit and mobile command center were set up at the scene, as well as at least two armored law enforcement vehicles.
An unknown number of neighboring town houses were evacuated, and the American Red Cross helped residents and first responders.
During the standoff, temperatures dropped to 13 degrees at 3 a.m., the National Weather Service said.
Late Friday morning, a police negotiator stood outside the town house, speaking in Spanish over a loudspeaker in an attempt to communicate with the barricaded man.
“Talk to me Juan, we can make things better,” the negotiator said. “Let’s help each other out, Juan. I know you want to come out.”
The negotiator also told the barricaded man his mother was with police and wanted to talk with him.
“Show your mom you’re a good man,” the negotiator said, drawing no response.
The negotiator urged the barricaded man to arrange for the shooting victim to leave the building, saying, “She’s been in there long enough.” A few minutes later, the negotiator asked over the loudspeaker for someone thought to be named “Janelle” to help police determine where Juan was inside the house.
Just before 1:30 p.m., about six to eight booms occurred in quick succession in the building. Smoke rose from the structure while glass blew out from windows on the first and second floors.
About six people who were sitting just south of the nearby Casey’s General Store at 600 S.E. Rice Road burst into tears when they heard the explosions.
After the “distractionary device” exploded, Stuart said, a robot entered the building to examine the interior.
After the standoff ended, a TV reporter asked Stuart why it took so long to resolve. The safety of the public and law enforcement officers “are paramount” whether it takes one hour or 12 hours, Stuart said.
In addition to Topeka police, the Shawnee County Sheriff’s Office, Shawnee County Park Police, Lawrence police, the Kansas Highway Patrol and other law enforcement agencies entered the area and established a perimeter during the standoff.
Police blocked traffic in the area, preventing vehicles from accessing Rice Road between S.E. 6th and 8th streets or entering the parking lot of Casey’s.
The Shawnee Heights USD 450 bus service and Durham Bus Service were notified Friday morning so they could detour their bus routes, Stuart said.
Marty Stessman, USD 450’s superintendent, said two of his district’s routes were affected, but only two students were unable to attend school because of the standoff.
According to Topeka Capital-Journal archives, a Topeka police officer shot Lucio in the stomach in 2010 after he fled from a stolen car and pointed a weapon at a pursuing officer at S.E. 5th and Locust. The car was taken during a home invasion at S.E. 4th and Lafayette. The city of Topeka was asked to pay nearly $200,000 to Stormont Vail Hospital after Lucio spent 23 days there.
Lucio served six years in prison after pleading no contest to felony charges related to the incident.
Capital-Journal staff writer Angela Deines contributed to this report.