The man killed in an officer-involved shooting was being remembered as a person full of life and excitement by relatives and high school classmates who were stunned by his death.
Joseph Nathaniel Weber, 36, Hays, was shot by a member of the Hays Police Department following a traffic stop and chase that ended in the 2300 block of Timber Drive on Thursday afternoon.
“Joe was a very kind, quiet, considerate young man,” said a relative, who wished to remain anonymous as the family deals with the events surrounding the death. “He would not hurt anyone. We can’t fathom how this tragic act of violence could happen.
“Joe did have limitations but had a wonderful outlook on life. He seemed to truly enjoy being involved with New Age and the activities such as bowling and softball. We will always have fond memories of our family Christmas as Joe acted as Santa. He enjoyed buying popcorn, candy and sparkling grape juice to share with us. He will be truly missed.”
Weber was a member of the Oakley High School Class of 1999. Members of the class released a statement to The Hays Daily News on Saturday afternoon.
“We loved Joey’s smile that would start small and grow across his face. … He was quiet and reserved, but you could always tell he was thinking about something. … The loss of his life is tragic and painfully inconceivable.”
The investigation surrounding the incident still is ongoing.
“Due to the nature of the investigation and the parties conducting the investigation, information will be fairly limited until they are farther along in the process,” said Ellis County Attorney Tom Drees.
Drees said the officer involved, per department policy, was been suspended with pay pending the investigation.
The Kansas Bureau of Investigation is handling the bulk of the investigation.
Bruce Mellor, special agent in charge of the Great Bend division of the KBI, said he knows several rumors are circulating about what happened.
“It’s just too early to say,” Mellor said Friday afternoon. “Of course, there’s going to be all kinds of rumors floating around. We have to work them all out.”
According to a release late Thursday by the Ellis County Attorney’s Office, Weber was stopped for a traffic infraction and failed to obey the officer’s commands. As additional officers were called, he sped off from Plaza Avenue and made his way to Timber Drive.
There, the release said, he got out of his vehicle and again failed to obey commands of the officer. The officer fired a shot, hitting the 36-year-old. He died at the scene.
The incident happened at approximately 2:40 p.m. Thursday, and Mellor said members of the KBI and others investigating left the scene at approximately 9 p.m. that evening.
While the official investigation continues, neighbors continue to give accounts.
Heather Slattery, who lives next door to the house where the shooting took place, said the home was a center for older men and women with disabilities.
“They don’t actually live there,” Slattery said. “Around 8 in the morning, workers bring the individuals to the home, and then they leave between 5 and 5:30.”
Slattery said because she has a young child, she was hesitant when she first heard who would be occupying the house.
“But since they have moved in, we have never had any problems with any of them,” Slattery said. “I’ve never had any cause for concern since they’ve been in the house.”
Slattery said she had spoken to the man who was killed Thursday several times in the past and had no negative interactions with him.
She was home Thursday afternoon when the shooting took place. Slattery heard and saw some of the event, and while she did not want to go into detail about what she witnessed, she has filed an official statement with the Hays Police Department.
“I am pretty disturbed about the whole thing,” Slattery said.
The home is registered to New Age Services, a Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities community-based day and residential service provider.