Archive for Tuesday, March 23, 1999


March 23, 1999


Lawrence police officers arrested Ronnie L. McPherson, a rural Perry man, on Monday for the Sunday shooting of Kayla Riley.

Stepping down the stairs where Kayla Riley collapsed in a pool of blood, calling for help, Linda York expressed thanks Monday that her family wasn't injured by the hail of bullets that sent her neighbor to the hospital.

Hours later, York felt safer learning police had arrested someone for shooting Riley, the 36-year-old daughter of former Lawrence mayor Ed Carter.

Authorities booked Ronnie L. McPherson, a 52-year-old resident of rural Perry, into the Douglas County Jail about 4:45 p.m. Monday on one count of attempted murder and one count of kidnapping.

When York realized her neighbor had been shot Sunday, "I came running to her, and I spoke with her as they took her away, telling her, `I'm here, I'm here.'"

York said she didn't want Riley to feel alone.

Riley named McPherson as her assailant during an interview with police Monday, Sgt. George Wheeler said.

Details about the moments leading up to the shooting were sketchy.

As for why McPherson allegedly shot Riley, who has lived in the apartment across from York's for about five months, police are pointing to a dispute about money.

While McPherson was trading his street clothes for an orange jail jumpsuit, Riley was in serious condition at the Kansas University Medical Center. Police say three of the multiple gunshots fired as she ran to her apartment about 6:45 p.m. Sunday hit her in the shoulder and groin areas.

Outside her home of three years, a place she described as family-oriented and generally quiet, York pointed to the four bullet holes ripped into the apartment building. Stray bullets also struck her husband and mother-in-law's cars in the parking lot.

"We had gone to Runza, and when we came back all the fire trucks and ambulances were here," York said, still digesting Sunday's events. "We first thought that an elderly woman who lives here was ill, but then we saw her family standing outside and knew it couldn't have been her because they would have been with her."

York's husband and her mother-in-law were upstairs when the shots rang out, sounding like "hammer blows to wood."

Riley's friend, Charles Jones, also was home and said he heard what he thought were gunshots, but he didn't see anything when he looked out a window.

Then he heard Riley calling for him from the landing where she fell bleeding. Police ripped up the stained carpet on the stairs and landing, leaving exposed plywood behind.

Jones, whom Riley has lived with for about five months, said Monday afternoon that he didn't know who had shot Riley or why.

"I don't have the slightest idea," he said.

Riley has four children and paints houses for a living, Jones said. She was trying to get a job at E and E Display Group, he said.

Efforts to reach the Carter family were unsuccessful.

York said she didn't know Riley well, but they often shared greetings in the hallway. Riley had been sitting outside enjoying the weather earlier on Sunday, said York, a school bus driver on spring break.

"She was always very cordial, a very likable person," York said.

Riley had played with York's 5-year-old granddaughter during the weekend, York said.

"She kept asking, `Why did they shoot my friend, why did they shoot my friend?'" York said of her grandchild.

-- Deb Gruver's phone message number is 832-7165. Her e-mail address is

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