WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - A man suspected in the shooting of a Kansas Department of Revenue employee in Wichita was under investigation by the agency and owed nearly $200,000 in sales taxes related to his construction business, according to police and records.
Ricky Todd Wirths, 51, walked into the taxation side of the Wichita office on Tuesday afternoon and asked to see Cortney Holloway, who is a tax seizure agent, Wichita police Officer Charley Davidson said. The two men were discussing his case when Wirths pulled out a gun and shot Holloway, Davidson said at a news conference Wednesday.
Holloway, 35, was in stable condition Wednesday. He works in the tax compliance division, where employees often are required to seize property to pay back taxes.
Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback said in a statement that Holloway was "doing his job" and asked the public to pray for him and his family.
A tax warrant for $196,455.36 filed in June against Wirths in Sedgwick County District Court shows he was doing business as Rick Wirths Construction. The unpaid sales taxes are for the tax periods spanning June 2012 to July 2015.
Wirths, of Wichita, was booked into jail on suspicion of attempted first-degree murder and was being held without bond. No charges have yet been formally filed.
He was arrested about half an hour after the shooting, police Sgt. Chad Beard said. He was stopped by law enforcement officers down the street from his house. Revenue Department employees and deputies from the Sedgwick County sheriff's Civil Section had gone to a residence in the area earlier while investigating the suspect.
Dave Hiegel, who said he has known Wirths for 22 years, said his friend did dirt work with his father, installed windows for a few years and most recently had done parking lot and pavement sealing, The Wichita Eagle reported.
"I guess he was losing everything," Hiegel said. "That would be hard to swallow."
Robert Choromanski, executive director of the Kansas Organization of State Employees, said workers who were in the office at the time of the shooting described the scene to him. He said there were bullet holes in cubicle walls and that employees were badly shaken. He said there was no security for workers inside the facility and that they had complained about that to management.
"There's nobody to screen you to see if you have any weapons on you," Choromanski said. "There's no metal detector, nothing. You just walk in."
This story has been corrected to show Wirths is being held on suspicion of an attempted first-degree murder charge, not first-degree murder.