As a Kansas tax agent recovered from gunshot wounds, the Wichita Eagle jumped to politicize a shooting at a Kansas Department of Revenue office in Wichita. That’s according to Sarah Shipman, the Secretary of the Kansas Administration.
In an opinion column, Shipman clarifies misinformation the Eagle published in a Sept. 20 story entitled, “Privatization moved state workers to unsecured office where shooting occurred.”
In its reporting, the Eagle quotes Robert Choromanski, the executive director of the Kansas Organization of State Employees, a labor union. Choromanski tells the paper he’s certain state employees would have been more secure at the Finney State Office Building rather than the privately-owned building where some Revenue employees work in Wichita.
“There were guards. There was protection,” he told the paper in mid-September.
The Wichita tax compliance staff were housed in the Finney building until 2014, when the office moved to the Twin Lakes Shopping Center in Wichita.
Nearly a month later, the Eagle published Shipman’s column. She writes that the Twin Lakes office space is secure. The office is locked and visitors must be buzzed in. The alleged shooter, Randy Wirths, visited the office space under the guise of official business. Wirths owed almost $400,000 in outstanding taxes when he met with Cortney Holloway, a Kansas tax enforcement agent, on Sept. 19. Shortly after some of Wirths’ property was seized, he requested to speak with Holloway. He pulled a handgun from a portfolio he was holding and shot Holloway, who survived the attack.
Nothing at the Finney State Office Building would have prevented the meeting from occurring, Shipman writes.
“There were indeed unarmed security guards at the front entrance to the building,” she writes. “Had the suspect in the shooting walked past them to meet with his tax agent, they would not have stopped him.”