Sedgwick County, KS – Sheriff Jeff Easter announced that Deputy Robert Kunze fatally shot his killer in his last moments of life, and saved two bystanders.
The sheriff told The Wichita Eagle that two bystanders were present during the fatal altercation between Deputy Kunze and Robert Greeson, 29.
After the deputy was fatally shot, the sheriff said that he “gets up and fights. That’s what I’m most proud of him — doing what he was trained to do.”
“Without a doubt in my mind, he (Kunze) prevented loss of other life because of the two witnesses standing there” the sheriff told The Wichita Eagle. “They’re witnesses to him (the suspect) murdering a sheriff’s deputy. That puts them in harm.”
“They were in grave danger if he (Greeson) would have survived,” Sheriff Easter told The Wichita Eagle. “Because if you’re willing to kill a law enforcement officer …. (you’ll) take the life of anybody.”
Police identified Deputy Kunze's killer on Sunday afternoon.
Greeson, was a convicted felon with a history of drug and battery offenses who failed to curb his violent tendencies even while in prison, the Sedgewick County Sheriff’s Office said, according to KCTV.
Police believe Greeson was involved in three other incidents in the 24 hours preceding the fatal encounter, KWCH reported.
The fatal incident began at approximately 1:15 p.m., after the department received a report of a suspicious person loitering around two ATVs and one of the caller’s vehicles.
The suspect left the area while deputies were responding, so the caller and one other person followed him.
The two people who reported the incident were parked in a vehicle in front of a black truck, which had its hood raised, when 41-year-old Deputy Kunze arrived in the area at 1:42 p.m., Sedgwick County Sheriff Jeff Easter explained.
Deputy Kunze made contact with Greeson and discovered a .40-caliber handgun in his waistband during a pat down. He seized the weapon and placed it to the side, the sheriff said.
Investigators later learned that Greeson’s weapon was reported stolen by its owner earlier in the day.
When Deputy Kunze began placing Greeson into handcuffs, an altercation ensued.
Deputy Kunze was shot once just above his ballistic vest, and activated an emergency button for help at 1:48 p.m.
Deputies said they heard Deputy Kunze say he had been shot over the radio, the sheriff said.
Greeson also sustained two gunshot wounds during the altercation – one to his waist and a second to his torso. He died at the scene.
Just one minute later, another deputy arrived at the scene and learned that the two individuals who had followed Greeson had witnessed the fatal altercation.
The second deputy handcuffed Greeson, who was unresponsive and lying face down, then rushed to render first aid to Deputy Kunze.
A citizen with EMT training also jumped in to help in the lifesaving efforts.
Deputy Kunze was transported to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 2:55 p.m.
He served the Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office for 12 years.
The .40-caliber handgun was found on the ground next to the suspect's body.
Sheriff Easter initially said that investigators determined that Deputy Kunze’s weapon was fired during the incident, but they were waiting for ballistics to determine whether Greeson’s weapon was also fired.
The sheriff now says that they know what happened, but haven't disclosed all of the details.
Greeson was also a suspect in three separate incidents in the 24-hour period preceding Deputy Kunze’s murder, the sheriff said.
Two of those incidents involved stolen vehicles and the theft of a .40-caliber handgun, while the third was in relation to the recovery of one of the stolen vehicles by Cheney police.
According to resident Robert Bonds, his security camera captured images of Greeson in the moments before he allegedly stole a silver Dodge Charger, KWCH reported.
"He's heading up to the porch to our door, discovers he can't get in, runs down and at that point there, he goes and lays underneath my pickup truck," Bond told the news outlet.
The video showed Greeson as he attempted to open the doors of Bonds’ vehicle, then crawled beneath it.
After lying on the ground for almost three minutes, Greeson came out from under the truck and walked over to Bonds’ neighbor’s home, where he stole the silver Dodge Charger.
According to Kansas Department of Corrections’ records, Greeson had previous convictions for drug sales and distribution, as well as assault and aggravated battery, KCTV reported.
He was charged with felony burglary and theft in November of 2016, but pleaded guilty after the charges were reduced to misdemeanors, The Wichita Eagle reported.
While in prison, he received a multitude of disciplinary infractions, including fighting.
He violated parole and absconded from supervision on numerous occasions, KWCH reported.
At the time of the fatal altercation, Greeson was serving a probation sentence that was set to expire in April of 2019, The Wichita Eagle reported.
Deputy Kunze, a married father of one, will be laid to rest on Friday.