Update on the Wescoe Hall gun mystery and why KU doesn’t consider it a violation of campus-carry policy

photo by: Sara Shepherd

Signs stating that the open carry of firearms is prohibited inside buildings are posted on doors throughout the University of Kansas campus. This sign, on Wescoe Hall, is pictured July 7, 2017.

I recently reported that, more than a year into campus carry at the University of Kansas, the school had logged one gun policy violation. Also, no gun crimes have been reported on campus since KU began allowing concealed handguns on July 1, 2017.

Several readers reached out wondering why that article didn’t include the loaded gun found abandoned in a Wescoe Hall bathroom in September 2017.

The short answer is, that incident wasn’t a weapons policy violation, according to KU.

In response to readers further wondering why it isn’t categorized as a weapons policy violation, I followed up with university officials and got a slightly longer answer.

Essentially, there’s no one to investigate for a violation. KU didn’t know then — and still doesn’t know now — who left the gun there.

“It is not known who left a gun in a Wescoe Hall bathroom in 2017, so whomever it was cannot be cited for a weapons policy violation,” university spokeswoman Erinn Barcomb-Peterson said, in an email this week.

The Wescoe incident is not considered a crime, either. KU police categorized the discovery of the gun, unattended in a men’s bathroom, as “found property.”

More than a year later, still no one has come forward to claim it, Deputy Chief James Anguiano of the KU Office of Public Safety said this week.

The Wescoe gun is linked to a crime elsewhere — a crime that also remains unsolved.

More than a year before it ended up in Wescoe Hall, in June 2016, the .38-caliber Taurus Ultra-Lite revolver was reported stolen out of a woman’s vehicle in Olathe.

“We’re still looking for information,” Olathe Police Department Sgt. Logan Bonney told me this week.

By checking the gun’s serial number, KU police quickly confirmed it had been stolen out of Olathe and turned it over to police there. Bonney said he didn’t have details to provide on Olathe’s investigation but that typically a recovered gun would be tested for forensic evidence, then returned to its rightful owner. If fingerprints or DNA were found on the gun, he said, linking them to a person would still hinge on that person’s information being in a database.

The person who stole the gun isn’t necessarily the same person who left it in Wescoe, either.

The gun could have changed hands without the transaction being registered in any government database. For one, private sales of firearms between individuals are legal in Kansas, although knowingly selling stolen property is not.

At this point, Olathe’s investigation into who stole the gun is inactive.

If anyone wants to come forward, Bonney said, “that would be helpful for us.”

Contact Journal-World public safety reporter Sara Shepherd

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