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Kansas News Briefs: Wichita door camera records mountain lion

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — In Kansas news, Wildlife officials say a Wichita doorbell camera captured video of a mountain lion trotting along a residential back alley earlier this week. Kansas Department of Wildlife Research Biologist Matt Peek says it’s the first confirmed cougar sighting in Wichita. The video was captured early Monday morning on Cris Boyle’s doorbell camera, showing the large cat padding along the alleyway in the Riverside neighborhood. The wildcat can even be heard growling as it passes by Boyle’s house. Peek says wildlife officials have notified Wichita police of the sighting so that if someone else reports seeing a mountain lion on their property, police know to take it seriously.

Schools Fight to Keep Students Amid Fear of Dropout Surge

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — U.S. educators are doing everything they can to track down high school students who stopped showing up to classes and to help them get the credits needed to graduate. Their efforts, including relaxing graduation requirements, come amid an anticipated surge in the country’s dropout rate during the coronavirus pandemic. There isn’t data available yet on how the pandemic has affected the nation’s overall dropout rate. But soaring numbers of students who are failing classes or are chronically absent have experts fearing the worst. Schools have been busy tracking down wayward seniors through social media, knocking on their doors and assigning staff to help them make up for lost time.

Officials: House Explosion Near Holton Kills 1, Injures 1

HOLTON, Kan. (AP) — Officials in northeastern Kansas say a house explosion has left one man dead and a woman seriously injured. Television station KSNT reports the explosion happened around 6 pm Monday about 3 miles north of Holton. Jackson County Sheriff Tim Morse says firefighters and medics arriving at the scene found the home leveled and on fire. Morse says 61-year-old Billy “Lu” Griffiths died in the explosion. The woman was flown to a Kansas City hospital with serious injuries. Her name has not been released. Morse says investigators believe the home was under renovation, and officials have not ruled out a gas leak as the cause of the explosion.

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Man Pleads Guilty in Woman’s Death at Kansas City Arts Event

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A 20-year-old man has pleaded guilty in the death of a woman who was struck by a stray bullet while attending a Kansas City arts event. Deon’te Copkney, of Kansas City, pleaded guilty Thursday to second-degree murder and armed criminal action for the August 2019 killing of Erin Langhofer, of Overland Park, Kansas. She was hit by a bullet during a First Friday event in the city’s Crossroads District. Thousands of people were mingling in the district when gunfire erupted. Langhofer was shot in the head. Police said she had no connection to the fight that prompted the shooting.

Kansas Man Sentenced to Life for Killing Woman, 2 Children

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas man who killed his estranged girlfriend and her two children and then set their house on fire has been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Ismael Caballero was sentenced Tuesday in the December 30, 2019, deaths of 32-year-old Yazmin Rodriguez-Santillan and her two children, 14-year-old Amerikha Rodriguez and 10-year-old Jeancarlo Rodriguez, of Kansas City, Kansas. He was given the life sentence for the deaths of the children and another 14-and-a-half years for Rodriguez-Santillan’s death. Prosecutors said he killed the woman, then returned to kill the children to prevent them from testifying against him. He then set the house on fire.

Services Set for Kansas Priest Considered for Sainthood

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas priest who died in a prisoner of war camp during the Korean War will be buried in Wichita on September 29. The family of the Reverend Emil Kapaun and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Wichita announced Tuesday that Kapaun’s remains will be flown from Hawaii on Sept. 25. His body will be taken to his hometown of Pilsen until Sept. 27, when the remains will be returned to Wichita. A vigil and funeral Mass will be held at Hartman Arena on Sept. 28-29. Kapaun’s remains were identified in March. The Roman Catholic Church is considering him for sainthood because of his selfless service during the war.

Leader of New Group, Another Democrat to Leave Kansas House

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Two Kansas City-area Democrats plan to resign later this year from the Kansas House, one of them announcing his decision less than a week after helping launch a liberal nonprofit group. State Representative Brett Parker, of Overland Park, said he will spend more time with his family, explore “new career opportunities” and look for new ways to help Democrats. He helped last week to start Prairie Roots as a group aiming to energize low-turnout voters and promote liberal candidates. Parker sent an email to his colleagues days after freshman Representative Stephanie Day posted on Facebook that she plans to move into a new home outside her Overland Park district.