t’s one of the things I like about this newspaper gig. I was sitting at my desk mid-day Tuesday, thinking to myself: “Self, this has been kind of a slow news week.”
Next thing you know comes word of a shooting outside the Parkville DMV by a woman who wasn’t happy with the wait time. Listen, we’ve all been frustrated at the DMV. Wait time at the DMV is as expected as death and taxes. But firing a gun in response to the situation seems a little extreme to me. (Interesting sidenote: court records The Landmark has looked at indicate the woman was been ticketed three times in recent years for failure to register a vehicle. Apparently she really hates these trips to the DMV).
Then a bit later Tuesday we got a tip of trouble for a Parkville police officer, charged with domestic assault and firing a weapon in a neighborhood just a bit outside the city limits of Platte City. The officer is now a former officer, having resigned on Monday after being arrested and charged over the weekend.
Never a dull week. Even when you’re starting to think it’s headed that way mid-day on a Tuesday.
Tom Hutsler is a longtime business owner/property owner in downtown Parkville. If you’re a longtime reader of The Landmark, you probably recognize his name as a longtime friendly acquaintance of the Between the Lines column. Hutsler was at the DMV when the shooting incident detailed on our front page went down.
Hutsler, to his credit, took an active role in preventing the situation from turning into something worse than it was. That he did so is not a surprise to me. I’ve known him for 15 or 20 years and can verify for you that Tom Hutsler has never been shy about scrapping–verbally or otherwise–when he feels the need.
I caught up with Hutsler via phone after the incident. Here is how the situation played out from his point of view.
“I went there with my 12-year-old son, Tommy. We had waited in line 20 minutes when I realized I had brought the wrong paperwork, so we left and came back an hour later. The lines were just as long when we came back. There were about 50 people in there,” Hutsler says.
When they returned inside the DMV, there was a very aggressive woman at the counter. She had apparently cut in line. “She was cussing, upset, making a lot of comments, including one comment about it being a matter of national security, she needed a second ID,” Tom explains. He said this went on for several minutes before somebody else in line remarked to the effect he had heard enough and “told her to shut up.” Hutsler says an employee headed to the back, apparently to call police. The suspect then said “I’m sure you’re calling the police,” and headed to the door, but before she left the building made a comment to the effect of “you haven’t seen the last of this.”
Hutsler says he told his son to stay in the line, while Tom followed the woman out the door. He said the woman walked outside, pulled a gun out of her bag and shot into the landscaping island. He said he only heard one shot, others have said there were two shots fired. “If there were two it had to be in very quick succession, I only heard one,” he says. Hutsler then engaged the woman in conversation, which distracted her as well as bought time for police to arrive on the scene. “I told her she wasn’t coming back into the building. She asked who I was. I said ‘you don’t want to know.’ She stopped in the middle of the street, then walked to her car. I got in my truck and pulled it to an area between her car and the building,” Hutsler says.
About that time, a man appeared on the sidewalk holding a pistol. Hutsler says he asked the man if he was an off-duty police officer. The man responded yes, he was an off-duty KCPD officer. For about four or five minutes, Hutsler and the off-duty officer stood behind Hutsler’s truck and watched the woman, who was in her car at the time. The off-duty officer was communicating with police dispatch.
“She then decides to get out of her car and the off-duty officer (with pistol drawn) started walking toward her. He ordered her on the ground. She asked who he was. I think he identified himself. She wasn’t following his orders to get on the ground,” Hutsler recalls.
So with the off-duty officer’s weapon trained on the woman, Hutsler approached the woman, who jail records indicate is 5’10” and 190 pounds. “I wrapped her up and took her to the ground, sat her on her butt,” Hutsler said. “She was crazed, out of control and upset. I didn’t know what she was going to do.” The off-duty officer asked her where the gun was, she said it was in her bag. After several minutes, police officers arrived on the scene, handcuffed the woman and found her weapon in the bag, Hutsler says.
What would have happened had Hutsler and the off-duty officer not been there?
“I believe she had every intention of going back in there. I wasn’t going to let her back in. There were 50 people in there, including kids. My son was in there. I won the war of words with her,” Hutsler told me.
Hutsler said he believes the off-duty officer had been in the DMV at the time the lady was getting verbal with staff, but is not sure. “And I don’t know if he had his weapon with him while inside or if he had gone out to his vehicle to get it.” Hutsler’s first sighting of the off-duty officer is when he saw the man standing on the sidewalk with pistol in hand.
“I’m glad the off-duty officer was there and glad he was armed. She didn’t even listen to him so who knows what she was going to do?” Hutsler said.
So what happened inside the DMV office while all this was going on outside?
“They said when they heard the shots they ordered everybody behind the counter and locked the doors,” Hutsler says.
Tom says one of the DMV employees told him while she was taking a hiding position behind the counter “a young boy came flying over the counter” and she pulled him in close to her. It was Hutsler’s son.
“It was a very hectic morning,” Hutsler summarized.
That’s a bit of an understatement.
(Get more Between the Lines on Twitter @ivanfoley and on Facebook at Platte County Landmark. Email Foley at firstname.lastname@example.org)