Man frees Kansas judge after hourslong hostage standoff

AP News
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Posted: May 31, 2016 9:19 PM

GARDEN CITY, Kan. (AP) — A gunman who held a Kansas county's chief judge and his wife hostage Tuesday over a child custody matter eventually surrendered, releasing the couple unharmed, police said.

Authorities said the standoff began shortly before 7 a.m., when the 33-year-old armed suspect toting a backpack forced his way into 61-year-old Wendell Wurst's Garden City home and confronted the couple.

The intruder ordered Wurst, Finney County's chief judge, to the ground and bound his hands, Garden City Police Chief Michael Utz said. Wurst's 62-year-old wife was allowed to use the bathroom, where she called police on her cellphone, Utz said.

The wife was released about 10 minutes later and fled to a neighbor's home, police spokesman Randy Ralston said.

The standoff lasted more than five hours, ending with the suspect's surrender and arrest and Wurst being freed. A backpack the suspect had carried into the home was examined by explosives experts and deemed harmless, Ralston said, declining to elaborate about the backpack's actual contents.

Police said the suspect was upset over a custody case Wurst handled, though details of that were not available Tuesday.

There was no immediate word about any charges resulting from the incident, though Ralson said possible charges could include aggravated assault, aggravated burglary, kidnapping and making a criminal threat.

"It's still a pretty fluid investigation," Ralston said. "I'm glad it was resolved peacefully and that there were no injuries."