As the small Johnson County community of Fairway mourns the death of a police officer who was fatally wounded in a Sunday morning shootout, other Kansas City law enforcement agencies are stepping in to help, including by hiring patrol duty.
The eight-man Fairway Police Department lost a person of their own Monday with the death of Officer Jonah Oswald, who had been with the agency for four years. Oswald, 29, died in hospital after being fatally wounded in a Sunday morning gunfire that implicated suspects in a car theft, one of whom was also killed, during a QuikTrip in suburban Kansas City in neighboring Mission .
“It’s something we do for each other,” said Sgt. Jesse Valdez, of the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office, told reporters Wednesday outside the police station, where a memorial to Oswald with notes and floral arrangements has grown over the past two days.
“It’s the brotherhood and the sisterhood that we have. When they ask for help, we give it to them. And we absolutely want to make sure that the City of Fairway knows that they have law enforcement here, that their tight-knit community remains controlled and safe.
Valdez said other agencies providing assistance include the Clay County Sheriff’s Office, the Kansas City Police Department and the Kansas City, Kansas Police Department.
Johnson County deputies, Valdez said, are answering calls for service on behalf of the department and will continue to do so until officers feel ready to return to work. The plans were to keep doing this at least until Friday and then look from there, Valdez said, adding, “We’ll do it as long as Fairway needs us.”
Valdez added that Oswald was a “hero” whose “tragic” death has affected law enforcement in the metropolitan area.
“For law enforcement officers in Johnson County, we appreciate the love and support we have received to date,” he said.
Few details have been made public about the fatal shooting, as the case continues to be investigated by the Johnson County Officer-Involved Critical Incident Investigation Team, which handles cases of fatal use of force.
It began with a police chase led by the Lenexa Police Department that ended at the QuikTrip at 4700 Lamar Ave. in Mission, just west of Fairway. Officers from other departments in the region assisted in reporting a stolen car, the driver of which allegedly rammed into a police car and fled.
Two suspects, a man and a woman, ran into the convenience store when officers — including Oswald — from various agencies responded to arrest them. Police have said Oswald was fatally wounded and the male suspect, identified as Shannon Wayne Marshall, 40, of Ashland City, Tennessee, was killed in a gunfire.
The female suspect, 32-year-old Andrea Rene Cothran of Goodlettsville, Tennessee, is charged with aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, fleeing or attempting to evade a police officer, and robbery. Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe said Tuesday that prosecutors are evaluating the situation to determine if there is enough evidence to support additional charges for Cothran.
Oswald’s death was announced Monday night by Fairway Police Chief JP Thurlo, who called him a “hearty person whose hard work and passion has touched the lives of many.” He said Oswald was a husband and father of two young children.
Oswald is the first Fairway police officer killed in the line of duty, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page, which tracks murders of police officers around the country. According to the nonprofit, he is the 727th Kansas officer killed in the state’s recorded history.
Prior to joining the Fairway Police Department, Oswald previously worked with the Buckner Police Department. During a phone interview with The Star on Tuesday, former law enforcement partner Kaitlyn Lauritsen said Oswald had “a great personality.”
“He always had such a fun-loving personality and really wanted to do what he could to make a difference in the world and his community,” she said.
Matti Gellman and Anna Spoerre of The Star contributed to this report.