Warsaw Police Chief Wounded During Shootout

Anita Campbell
County Reporter
Warsaw Police Chief Jason Wenberg is resting at home after what has to be the most harrowing week of his career as police chief.
On Thursday morning, Warsaw North Elementary staff noticed a young man on the steps of North School using his cell phone.  When they questioned him, he said he was trying to use the school’s WiFi.  He was asked to leave the school grounds which he did.
Later that day, the same young man stole a truck which was parked near Sun Lakes Rehabilitation Center on Seminary Street in downtown Warsaw.  According to Benton County Sheriff Eric Knox, still later that afternoon, the young man was allegedly involved in an altercation with authorities.  The young man fired at one of the department’s vehicles, but no one was injured.  “The suspect then drove at a high rate of speed traveling south in the northbound lane, abandoning the vehicle at the off ramp of the Dam Access Road and fleeing into the woods near the Lost Valley Hatchery. 
Law enforcement officers from the Missouri Highway Patrol, Warsaw, Lincoln and Cole Camp Police Departments as well as the Benton County Sheriff’s Office were involved in the chase. 
A K-9 team from the Henry County Sheriff’s Office tracked the suspect for several hours, losing him in an area where he “often frequented.”   
According to Warsaw R-9 Superintendent Shawn Poyser, the same teenager was on the steps of North School again on Friday morning and was again trying to use the school’s WiFi.  He was again asked to leave which he did; however, at approximately 8:15 AM, just minutes after standing outside North School, this teen was reported to the Warsaw Police.  Police Chief Wenberg confronted the teenager at the intersection of Washington and Seminary; the teen brandished a gun and then shot Wenberg in the shoulder.  Wenberg returned fire striking the teen in the face.
The teenager was taken by Life Flight to the University of Missouri Hospital in Columbia in serious condition.  Wenberg was taken by ambulance to Golden Valley Hospital in Clinton.  Wenberg was released later that same day to recuperate at home.
Sgt. Bill Lowe of the Missouri Highway Patrol said, “During that altercation, that suspect displayed a handgun, fired a round toward the police officer and struck him in his ballistic vest.  The officer returned fire, striking the suspect.”
North Elementary School was placed on lock down as soon as the police department informed them of the incident in Warsaw.
 Wenberg has been placed on administrative leave while the Missouri Highway Patrol investigates the shooting.  Acting Police Chief Grant Johnson reported that Wenberg is in good condition and is at home with his family. 
“I am extremely proud to serve with Chief Wenberg,” said Johnson.  “He is a very brave man and we are lucky to have him in this position to protect our community.”
Johnson went on to say that our community and the police department learned a lesson with this incident and he was glad that they learned it without any fatalities.
Warsaw Mayor Eddie Simons echoed Johnson’s sentiments.  “Chief Wenberg handled himself very professionally and the City of Warsaw is extremely grateful to have such a dedicated individual in this important position,” Simons said.
“This is an unfortunate incident, things like this just don't happen here in Warsaw. We are all glad that we had Chief Wenberg to handle it,” Simons said.  “Chief Wenberg is a very brave individual and we are very proud of him.  We hope he will be back on the job very soon.”
According to the Benton County Sheriff’s Office, the 16 year old was sitting up and talking by Sunday in Columbia and was to be released to the juvenile authority.   The youth was not enrolled in any of the three Benton County high schools, and had recently moved to Warsaw from Kansas with his guardians.
“We are thankful for the community’s overwhelming response and support,” was a statement from the Benton County Sheriff’s Office.  “Our prayers go out to all involved.”