Man who allegedly shot police officer wanted in death inquiry - | WBTV Charlotte

Man who allegedly shot police officer wanted in death investigation

(Sandra Olivas/KCTV5) (Sandra Olivas/KCTV5)

A man accused of shooting a Kansas City police officer is wanted for questioning in connection with the death of a 19-year-old woman.

Joel D. Bravard, 26, shot at officers who came to arrest him Thursday morning on a Platte County warrant, authorities said. He has been hospitalized in critical condition after he was shot Thursday.

The officer was shot in the leg and taken to an area hospital. He is expected to be OK, police said. The injured officer is a 15-year veteran of the department.

Capt. Tye Grant of the Kansas City Police Department confirmed Thursday night that officers wanted to speak with Bravard about Michelle Russell's death last month.

Officers initially said they believed the death was suspicious, but later said they believe Russell shot herself at a Northland motel off Interstate 29. Russell's family fiercely disagrees.

Russell's body was found in a vehicle abandoned in east Independence. Abandoning a corpse is against the law.

Police did not say whether Bravard was shot by an officer or shot himself.

Tactical officers armed with shields went to the home at 526 Lawndale Ave. just before 11 a.m. to arrest Bravard, who was wanted on a Platte County warrant. Bravard has been listed as among the area's most wanted fugitives and he was being sought on a warrant for receiving stolen property. He had failed to show up for court.

The officers who came to arrest Bravard were with the department's fugitive apprehension unit.

Two people came out of the home, but Bravard refused to do so. Instead, he opened fire on the officers, police said. 

"The party shot multiple rounds at the officers striking one in his leg. Several officers returned fire," according to a news release from the Kansas City Police Department. "The officer then took up positions of cover until it was safe to extract them and get the injured officer medical treatment."

Innocent bystanders ran for cover. Jaime Leon grabbed his newborn son as he and his wife ran for the basement upon hearing repeated rapid gunfire.

Residents said the protective shields that the tactical officers carried saved lives.

At 1 p.m., officers entered the residence where they found Bravard suffering from a gunshot wound. He did not live at the house.

The neighborhood is near Hardesty and Independence avenues in northeast Kansas City.

Russell's family and friends held a scheduled vigil for her Thursday night. They remembered her as spunky and kind.

Becky Russell said police told her that they had Bravard in custody, but they cannot question him until he regains consciousness.

"I still won't give up," she said. "I will make sure that it is fully investigated and that if he is responsible he will be charged."

The Jackson County Medical Examiner's Office, which handles death investigations in the Northland, has not said whether Russell's death was suicide or not.

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