a murder that occured sunday evening at the play ground in sunset park is investigated by law enforcement officers. (photo by tom dorsey / salina journal) | buy journal photos


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spectators watch sunday evening from the north side of sunset park as law enforcement officials investigate a murder that occured in the park. (photo by tom dorsey / salina journal)

man shot dead


by erin mathews salina journal

salina police strung crime scene tape around the playground at sunset park on sunday evening and were seeking a suspect in connection with a fatal shooting that occurred near the playground.

salina deputy police chief carson mansfield said the victim, whose covered body lay in the street south of the playground, was a male, and police were investigating his death as a homicide.

an alert put out over the police scanner shortly after the shooting said the suspect was believed to be armed with a pistol and may be headed to texas.

the shooting occurred at about 7:40 p.m. on a cool sunday evening that had brought many adults and children to the park. witnesses said a large party had been going on in the shelter near the park entrance when the shooting occurred, and there were children on the playground at the time.

dulce ruiz, of salina, said that about an hour before the incident, her 7- and 10-year-old sons had been playing on the playground while she and her sister walked on the walking path around the center of the park.

“imagine if they would have been there still,” she said. “that puts me in shock. i don’t think i want my kids to be there because what kind of security do we have?”

ruiz was among a crowd of about 50 to 100 people who gathered along republic avenue near the park entrance after the shooting.

when the crowd became large enough to obstruct traffic, a man stood in the middle of the intersection at hancock and republic avenues and directed cars.

about an hour after the shooting, all available police officers were called to sunset park to disperse the crowd.

officers, who were confronted by distraught family members of the victim and others who appeared ready to fight, yelled at the people gathered that they would be arrested for unlawful assembly if they did not leave the area.

ruiz said she had returned to the area shortly after 7:40 p.m. to pick up a friend who needed a ride. she pulled her truck into the park entrance at hancock and republic without realizing a shooting had just occurred there. she was not allowed to move her truck, which was parked inside the area that was designated as crime scene.

she said the incident was changing her feelings about the park, where she had been in the habit of coming daily.

“i don’t think we’re safe anywhere anymore,” she said.

n reporter erin mathews can be reached at 822-1415 or by e-mail at [email protected].

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