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Search ends in shotgun suicide

Staff writer

A 65-year-old Marion man fatally shot himself Monday morning while law enforcement officers were conducting a search in a felony investigation.

County attorney Joel Ensey refused to release information Tuesday about the nature of the case against Charles Park, which has been ongoing.

There was no indication that the case was drug-related.

A news release from Kansas Bureau of Investigation said Park “was present while deputies and officers were searching his residence related to a felony investigation.”

A death report filed Tuesday afternoon by deputy coroner Larry Larsen indicated Park “was being arrested by officers Duane McCarty and Aaron Christner.”

According to monitored radio transmissions, McCarty, Marion’s interim police chief, told dispatchers at 10:20 a.m. Monday that he and Christner, a sheriff’s deputy, “will be out at that address.”

There was no previous mention on encrypted transmissions of Park’s address — a 1915 home at 341 S. 4th St. in severe disrepair. A part of its roof has a hole in it. There is little paint left on the white one-story frame house, which Park owned, according to county records.

A rickety metal screen door fell almost completely off the front door as officers entered and exited the home Monday.

Radio transmissions revealed little else:

Christner, 10:44 a.m. — “128, Marion. Send EMS this way. Gunshot wound.”

Undersheriff Larry Starkey, 10:47 a.m. — “120, Marion. 10-23 (arrived).”

Sheriff’s deputy Bruce Burke, 10:50 a.m. — “138 to Marion. I’ll be responding to the residence in Marion as well.”

Sheriff’s deputy Jim Philpott, 10:50 a.m. — “121, Marion. 10-23.”

Christner, 10:55 a.m. — “128. Mark-Adam-David-Six-Zero-Seven, Kansas 28 (license plate check). Just hold it.”

Philpott, 11:07 a.m. — “121, Marion. Coroner on scene.”

“Once I got there and saw what we had, I called the KBI to make arrangements that took some time,” Starkey said in an interview Tuesday.

Burke cordoned off the property with yellow crime scene tape that said “SHERIFF’S LINE DO NOT CROSS” in black letters.

A Kansas Highway Patrol trooper stood in the yard, conversing at times with Philpott. Philpott told a Record reporter that investigators from the KBI were on the way.

KBI presence at a scene often indicates that law enforcement were involved in a shooting in some way.

Philpott eventually told a reporter at Park’s house that no officer had fired a weapon.

In his death report, assistant coroner Larsen wrote: “The deceased is lying on his right side in the doorway between the kitchen and living room.”

While McCarty and Christner were attempting to arrest Park, Larsen wrote, “all of a sudden, the deceased man “stood up and placed a 12-gauge shotgun … to the area of his left eye. He then pulled the trigger on his own. The extended projectiles came in contact with the left side of his face, causing a non-survivable injury.”

Larsen’s report went on to describe the aftermath in sometimes graphic detail.

The shotgun Park used, Larsen wrote, “is lying across his right leg, and his right hand is in contact with it.”

It was a semi-automatic weapon.

“Officer Philpott and I decided not to move the weapon due to the possibility of it discharging and causing injury to anyone or anything,” Larsen wrote.

Park was wearing gray shoes, black socks, an AC/DC sweat shirt, and black sweat pants,” Larsen wrote.

McCarty and Christner were both off work Tuesday. Starkey said Christner normally would have been working. It was unclear whether McCarty would have been.

The KBI arranged for them to have critical-incident stress debriefing, which is common in such cases.

Prairie View also offered counseling assistance if needed, Starkey said.

City council member Ruth Herbel texted McCarty on Tuesday, she said.

“I was just concerned about him,” she said. “He’s pretty shook up.”

A check of court records indicated that Park, who at one time was a county employee, had no criminal record, not even a traffic ticket.

Last modified April 13, 2023

 

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