Suspects In Officer's Killing Appear In Court Monday

(Source: Shawnee Co. Sheriff's Office)
By  | 

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) -- The suspect in the shooting death of a Topeka Police officer appeared in court for the first time Monday morning.

Ross Preston Lane is accused of killing CPL. Jason Harwood, a highly decorated 15-year veteran, during a traffic stop in East Topeka Sunday night. A candlelight vigil is planned for Harwood at 8:00 p.m. and the Law Enforcement Center,

Lane faces a Capital Murder charge and is expected to be formally charged on Tuesday, according to Asst. District Attorney Lee McGowan. Other charges are criminal distribution of a firearm and possession of a firearm by a felon.

Lane has prior convictions for burglary in Johnson Co. in 2003, Criminal Threat in Butler Co. in 2006, and he had convictions in 2003 in Shawnee Co. for misdemeanor Criminal Damage and Domestic Battery.

He appeared straight faced in first court appearance. He told Judge Frank J. Yeoman that he did not have an attorney representing him. When Yeoman asked if he would like the court to appoint one, he responded, "nope."

Yeoman said he considered having someone stand in as back-up council, but said he wants to respect Lane's wishes.

McGowan said Lane shot CPL Harwood four times, drove to another location and called Randy Allen Ridens Jr., who allegedly picked him up on a stolen motorcycle. The pair then rode to Douglas Co. where the motorcycle broke down.

Ridens was arrested Monday morning for possession of stolen property, obstruction, and a probation violation. He appeared in court right after Lane and had his bond set at $1 million because the judge said he had a criminal background and was a flight risk. When he was asked if he wanted a lawyer, Ridens said, "It don't matter."

Officer Down

On Sunday night the Shawnee Co. Sheriff's Office said Officer Harwood stopped a blue or green four-door car near the intersection of 6th and Deer Creek Parkway on Sunday afternoon. During the stop, one or more people in the car fired a weapon, striking the officer, and drove off.

Around 4:45 p.m. the Shawnee Co. Emergency Communications Center received a call about an officer in need assistance. When emergency responders arrived, they found the officer critically wounded. He was rushed to Stormont-Vail with life-threatening injuries.

Information gathered at the scene indicated that there may have been three people in the car at the time.

Several agencies, and the Kansas Highway Patrol helicopter, joined in the search. Sixth Street was closed down near Deer Creek Parkway during the investigation.

As the search for the suspect was underway, 13 News' Melissa Brunner received a call from a man identifying himself as Ross Lane and said he was the person wanted in the officer's shooting. The information he provided matched an All Points Bulletin issued at the time.

Lane gave his location, which was relayed to police.

He also told Melissa he didn't want to end up like David Tiscareño, a reference to the man who shot and killed two Topeka Police officers on another Sunday night, back in December 16, 2012. Tiscareño was shot and killed following a stand-off with police. Read the full episode here

Shortly after 8:00 p.m., they said they captured in Lawrence.

Later Sunday night, the Shawnee Co. Sheriff's Office said it was also looking for Randy Allen Ridens as a Person of Interest in Harwood's death.

He was arrested and booked into Shawnee County Jail early Monday morning for possession of stolen property, obstruction, and a probation violation.

On Monday, Sheriff Jones said the arrests of Lane and Ridens leaves him confident there is no more danger to the public.

CPL Jason Harwood

Forty year-old Harwood leaves behind a wife and two children.

He joined the Topeka Police Dept. in June 1999, served with hit-and-run and was a K-9 Officer.

Harwood was injured in the line of duty in May 2010. He and a Highway Patrol Trooper were working backup in the search for a suspect along I-70 when a van unrelated to the incident drove onto the shoulder. It hit their vehicles and struck the officers.

Harwood suffered multiple broken bones and internal injuries.

He said at the time he was impressed by how fellow officers told him when one was hurt they all help out.

"We will be grieving," said Shawnee Co. Sheriff Herman Jones. "As you know, we have experienced this too often. This is not easy; I repeat this is not easy."

"Our hearts are heavy," said Acting Topeka Police Chief Tony Kirk. "We're going to love each other and we're going to get through this. Respect us on this and give us that opportunity."

Due to the pending funeral on the 13th, the Topeka Race Against Breast Cancer has been rescheduled for October 24th and 25th.

Police confirm that Ross Preston Lane, 30, a suspect in the killing of a Topeka Police officer, has been captured. (Source: Shawnee Co. Sheriff's Office)