Two Lawrence men were killed in shootings in the early hours of Sunday, July 31.
Although many details are still unclear, here’s the information we have so far.
Who was killed?
Shelby Len McCoy, just a couple weeks away from his 53rd birthday, was shot at a home in the 1100 block of Tennessee Street. First responders rushed him to the University of Kansas hospital in Kansas City, but he did not survive.
According to his obituary, McCoy is survived by his parents, two brothers, a sister, two children, four grandchildren and numerous other family members.
“Shelby would take the shirt off his back to help anyone and had the biggest heart,” according to an online fundraiser to help with his funeral expenses.
William Dale O’Brien, 43, was shot in the 300 block of Northwood Lane. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
According to his obituary, O’Brien’s survivors include his parents, grandfather, three sisters, significant other, ex-wife, dog, and “many aunts, uncles, and cousins.” O’Brien was in the Lawrence High School class of 1997. He worked for several concrete companies, and most recently, he worked for Standard Beverage Co., according to the obituary.
“He enjoyed fishing, shooting, going to the dog park with his dogs, gambling, and crab legs, driving his Harley and Corvette, and hanging out with friends,” the obituary says. A fundraiser page says he had no life insurance and seeks help for his family to cover the “unexpected cost of the unnecessary death.”
It is unclear from what we know at this point whether McCoy and O’Brien were known to each other and how or whether they knew the alleged shooter. Numerous family members and friends of both men have written public social media posts memorializing their loved one and simultaneously lamenting the “demons” he faced.
Rodney Ericson Marshall, 51, of Lawrence, was arrested early Sunday, July 31. He was charged the next day with two counts of first-degree murder, five counts of attempted capital murder, and one count of attempted first-degree murder.
Douglas County District Court Judge Amy Hanley on Monday sealed the probable cause affidavit — the sworn statement that outlines law enforcement’s justification for an arrest — in Marshall’s case. Although such documents tend to cast suspects in the light most favorable to the prosecution, they often provide details of the circumstances surrounding the charges against a suspect.
The details of what allegedly unfolded that night, why, and what led law enforcement officers to zero in on Marshall as their suspect are unclear. Marshall’s defense attorneys did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday, but below is the timeline of the alleged events, according to law enforcement, police call logs, scanner traffic and obituaries.
All defendants in criminal cases should be presumed not guilty unless and until they are convicted.
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Read the whole timeline …
1:37:55 A.M. SUNDAY, JULY 31: Gunshots are reported in the 1100 block of Tennessee Street.
1:39:28 A.M. SUNDAY, JULY 31: A caller reports that his brother has been shot in the 1100 block of Tennessee Street. First responders rush a 52-year-old man to the University of Kansas hospital in Kansas City. He does not survive. We later learn that this was Shelby Len McCoy, of Lawrence.
1:45:44 A.M. SUNDAY, JULY 31: A second shooting is reported, this time in the 300 block of Northwood Lane. Officers find a 43-year-old man shot and wounded. He is pronounced dead at the scene. We later learn that this was William Dale O’Brien, of Lawrence.
~6:00 A.M. SUNDAY, JULY 31: Officers believe they’ve located the suspect in the 900 block of Lawrence Avenue and attempt to pull him over. The suspect allegedly leads officers on a pursuit through town and onto Haskell Avenue … and then onto Kansas Highway 10, headed east toward Kansas City. Officers allege that the suspect is firing shots out his vehicle window along the way.
~6:30 A.M. SUNDAY, JULY 31: Eudora police deploy spike strips on K-10, and the suspect’s vehicle is stopped. Lawrence police take the suspect into custody. A “female passenger” is taken in for questioning. Investigators will continue to work along the highway for a few early morning hours.
7:40 A.M. SUNDAY, JULY 31: Rodney Ericson Marshall, 51, of Lawrence, is booked into the Douglas County jail. He is held without bond on suspicion of two counts of first-degree murder and several counts of attempted murder.
LATER SUNDAY MORNING: Investigators, including some special investigation units from Olathe and Shawnee, are on the scene at a residence in the 3400 block of Harvard Road, listed in the booking log as Marshall’s home. They’re “gathering potential evidence” connected to the homicides, police say.
MONDAY, AUG. 1: Rodney Ericson Marshall is charged in Douglas County District Court. He faces two counts of first-degree murder, five counts of attempted capital murder for allegedly firing at law enforcement officers, and one additional count of attempted first-degree murder. His bond is set at $1.5 million.
TUESDAY, AUG. 2: Lawrence police Chief Rich Lockhart tells Lawrence city commissioners at their meeting that officers followed their training, used ballistic shields, sent up a drone and stayed back. “It was just a textbook way to handle a felony car stop,” he says.
Were any officers injured?
Lawrence police said the morning of Sunday, July 31 that no officers had been physically injured, but the department was making sure that anyone who needed it was getting mental health support.
Police Chief Rich Lockhart shared details with the Lawrence City Commission that Tuesday, Aug. 2, that had not been previously released. He lauded Officer Kevin Henderson, who Lockhart said “took control of the situation. He ordered all the officers to stay back” once the suspect got on the highway, because “there was no reason at that point for us to be up on top of him while he’s shooting the gun at us.”
A Kansas Highway Patrol trooper got a bullet lodged in his vehicle’s radiator, and Eudora police officers were under fire while they were setting up spike strips, Lockhart alleged.
Major Casey Cooper told the commission that “Because these officers were so well trained, they just fell back to their training, where they were able to safeguard the community from more damage, more harm and more lives lost.”
Lockhart said once the suspect’s car was stopped, the incident did not progress like what you see on TV where everybody runs up to the vehicle. The officers stayed back, stayed behind ballistic shields, and got a drone in the air so they could see inside the car.
“It was just a textbook way to handle a felony car stop. And at the end of the day, he went home safe, we went home safe and everything came out the way it should,” Lockhart said. “… So I just want to commend them and share with you how proud I was of them and how proud I am to be the chief and working with all these great people.”
Why is the affidavit sealed?
The prosecution team, Douglas County District Attorney Suzanne Valdez and Deputy District Attorney Joshua Seiden, and Marshall’s defense team of Michael Clarke and Carol Cline both filed motions asking Hanley to seal the arrest affidavit.
The main reasons the motions cited are to protect Marshall’s right to a fair trial, because jurors can be biased by information they read in media; to avoid jeopardizing the well-being or safety of witnesses; and to avoid revealing confidential sources of information and investigative techniques.
Hanley ruled that the document will not be released, at least prior to a preliminary hearing, when she will determine whether there is enough evidence to bind Marshall over for trial.
What else is in the court documents?
The defense filed a motion on Aug. 2 for the sheriff’s office to collect and preserve urine and blood specimens from Marshall in order to protect his right to a fair trial.
Marshall’s bond is set at $1.5 million cash or surety. That means in order to be released from jail pending trial, he would have to pay a bondsman about $150,000.
Should Marshall make bond, his location would be electronically monitored, he could not have any contact with witnesses, and he could not possess any firearms or consume illegal drugs or alcohol.
The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office declined to release Marshall’s booking photo.
Marshall’s next court hearing is a status conference set for 1 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 14.
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Mackenzie Clark (she/her), reporter/founder of The Lawrence Times, can be reached at mclark (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.
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