TOPEKA — A grim record was set Saturday night when three law enforcement officers were shot in Topeka as they tried to serve an arrest warrant on Orlando J. Collins, 28.
Three is the largest number of officers wounded at one time in the city’s history, two past police chiefs and a sheriff said Monday.
Federal fugitive task force members were trying to arrest armed robbery suspect Orlando J. Collins, 28, at the Country Club Motel when they came under fire as they approached a motel room, FBI spokeswoman Bridget Patton said Monday.
A fire then erupted in that room, spread throughout the building and gutted the structure.
Former Topeka police chiefs Ron Miller and Ed Klumpp and former Shawnee County Sheriff Ed Ritchie on Monday said they didn’t know of any incidents prior to Saturday in which more than three law enforcement officers had been shot in Topeka.
Before he was elected sheriff, Ritchie was a police officer for many years.
“That risk (of being wounded) has been there all the time. Every time you take down someone, the risk is always there,” Klumpp said.
“It’s just a matter of time before (someone) really explodes like this one did,” Klumpp said of the three shootings at the Country Club Motel, 3732 S.W. Topeka Blvd.
Sometimes “they’re firing more firepower than we have,” Klumpp said.
Klumpp had been the Topeka police chief from 2000 to 2005 when he retired following a 35-year career in law enforcement.
Ritchie, who as a narcotics officer executed many warrants in houses and buildings, said, “Normally you try to stay away from windows and the front door.”
That is to avoid being shot through the door or window, Ritchie said. Ritchie was a Topeka police officer from 1953 to 1980, then was elected three terms as the Shawnee County sheriff. He retired in 1993.
When a law enforcement officer, Ritchie didn’t like to wear a bulletproof vest because it was uncomfortable.
“Now you have to wear a bulletproof vest,” Ritchie said, adding the vests are good protection.
Miller, now the U.S. Marshal for the District of Kansas, said three officers on the Kansas City, Kan., Police Department were shot while he served at that agency.
The three were responding to a domestic violence call and were walking inside a building when a gunman on the level below fired up through the floor, striking the three in the feet and legs, Miller said. The three recovered.
Miller was a Kansas City, Kan., police officer advancing to the rank of chief for 34 years, was the Topeka police chief for eight years, and was appointed U.S. Marshal in 2014.
Three pairs of Topeka police officers have been shot in the past 41 years.
On Aug. 16, 1975, Michael Ferris, a teenager with his hands cuffed behind his back, yanked a pistol from officer Maurice Koch’s holster and shot Koch and officer Charles Walker. Ferris was paroled after serving 32 years in prison.
While answering a domestic violence call at an East Topeka residence March 5, 1985, Ithiel Lawton fired a shotgun and wounded officers Pat Reed and Randy Horn as the approached the house.
On Dec. 16, 2012, police Cpl. David Gogian and officer Jeff Atherly were fatally shot at the Dillon’s grocery store, S.W. Huntoon and Washburn, while investigating suspected drug activity.
The gunman, David Tiscareno, was fatally shot the next day during a standoff with police.
On Monday, a few more details emerged about the Saturday shootings.
Miller said a man who had been in Collins’ motel room before the shootings, then left, was picked up by federal deputies in connection with a parole violation.
The marshals service said the two deputy marshals wounded at the motel were treated and released after sustaining gunshot wounds.
The FBI agent was in good condition Monday in an unknown hospital.
Identities of the three haven’t been disclosed. Miller said the marshals service doesn’t disclose the names of deputies.
As of Monday, a body recovered from the burned-out motel room hadn’t been identified, Patton said. According to an Associated Press story, Topeka police said Collins was suspected of:
• A March 30 armed holdup and shooting at an occupied home.
• Being a person of interest in connection with an attempted robbery of a grocery store and a holdup of a convenience store April 6.
• Was linked to those offenses by unspecified evidence found in a 1996 Audi burning at a car wash.
• Was identified as someone sought for questioning for armed robbery of a tobacco store Friday, then stealing a 2011 Nissan Sentra later found burning.