Aunt of slain Kansas man says nephew wanted to die

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OTTAWA, Kan. (AP) — An eastern Kansas man who was fatally shot by law enforcement officers in a farm supply store’s parking lot was depressed and intentionally goaded officers into shooting him, his aunt told reporters.

Joseph Jennings, 18, of Ottawa, was killed Saturday after officers were called to the Orscheln Farm & Home parking lot around 8 p.m. in response to a man reportedly armed with a gun, The Kansas City Star reported.

Jennings’ aunt, Brandy Smith of Ottawa, said she watched as her nephew puffed out his chest at officers and made several gestures that could have looked like he was going for a gun. Smith said Jennings suffered from depression, seizures and other mental problems and wanted to be shot.

“I think he was on a suicide mission,” Smith said on Sunday in the Orscheln parking lot, where Franklin County Attorney Stephen A. Hunting announced that the Kansas Bureau of Investigation is investigating the shooting.

Authorities at the news conference declined to answer specific questions about the shooting, including how many shots were fired or whether Jennings was armed.

Smith said law enforcement officers had dealt with Jennings on Friday and were aware that he was having mental issues.

“I was screaming at the top my lungs: That’s Joseph Jennings! You know him, don’t shoot him!'” she said.

An autopsy was being conducted Sunday in Kansas City, Kan., Hunting said.

 

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