Topeka teen was readying AK-47 as crowds left Lawrence bars, affidavit alleges

photo by: Douglas County Sheriff's Office

Dayson Gage Kelley, pictured in February 2020

Lawrence police stopped a man who they believed was readying to shoot at crowds in one of the city’s most popular bar districts, according to court documents.

Dayson Gage Kelley, 18, was charged in Douglas County District Court on March 3 with two counts of aggravated assault on law enforcement officers and one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, all felonies. He was released from the Douglas County Jail March 11 after posting $50,000 surety bond, documents in his court case indicate.

Update

March 25, 2020: Lawrence police spokesman: Officers acted quickly in situation that ‘could have easily ended in tragedy’

The Journal-World requested and recently received the police affidavit supporting Kelley’s arrest. Allegations in affidavits have not been proved in court, and defendants in criminal cases should be presumed not guilty unless and until they are convicted.

According to the affidavit, Lawrence police officers Joshua Doncouse and Ian McCann were patrolling the parking lot south of 507 W. 14th St., The Wagon Wheel, more commonly dubbed the Wheel, around 1:33 a.m. Friday, Feb. 28. Also nearby are The Jayhawk Cafe, aka the Hawk, and Bullwinkles Bar, aka the Bull. All are just blocks away from the University of Kansas campus.

Large crowds of students had begun to exit the businesses as bar-closing time approached, according to the affidavit. Feb. 28 was prior to the coronavirus disease being declared a global pandemic.

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The officers saw a group of people in a verbal argument near a van in the parking lot. Two of those involved got into the van and drove away; the other three, including a white man in a gray jacket and blue jeans, walked away toward a Toyota Camry parked in the lot.

The officers parked in a nearby lot and got out of their patrol vehicle to monitor the area, the affidavit says. Doncouse then saw the same man — later identified as Kelley, according to the affidavit — open the Camry’s trunk, take out a rifle and hold it in a “low ready position” as he looked toward Ohio Street. That is “keeping the gun in front of you but the gun is pointed lower than what your target is so you have a clear line of vision and can quickly raise the gun to engage a target,” according to the affidavit.

Based on Kelley’s actions and “the brazen act of pulling the rifle out of his trunk in front of two police officers,” police believed that the man had prepared the weapon for use and intended to fire it. They drew their guns and shouted at Kelley to drop the weapon.

Doncouse wrote in the affidavit that Kelley had looked directly at them; “However, instead of complying, the male, without dropping the rifle, dropped down behind the Toyota, apparently seeking cover.”

“… Affiant believed the white male, who still had not dropped the gun, was tactically seeking cover and was preparing to engage (fire the weapon) at Affiant and Officer McCann, or at the crowd” of patrons exiting the bars, Doncouse wrote.

The officers took cover behind cars in the lot and then were able to see that Kelley had gotten into the Camry and was then getting out unarmed. Doncouse told Kelley to get on the ground, and at that point he complied, according to the affidavit.

Surveillance video from about 1:30 a.m. reportedly shows Kelley opening the Camry’s trunk, then closing it without taking anything out of it. He then lies on his back in the middle of a parking stall, gets back up, opens, closes and reopens the trunk once again. Then he walks over to the van and engages in the verbal altercation that the officers had witnessed, according to the affidavit.

The officers found the AK-47 semi-automatic assault rifle in the grass next to the car. In their investigation, they found that the rifle was loaded with a round in the chamber and 28 more in the magazine.

“Affiant knows from training and experience that each of the 29 rounds fired through this gun can kill a human being,” Doncouse wrote.

The gun was registered to a female relative of Kelley’s, according to the affidavit. Because of an aggravated assault conviction in a 2018 juvenile case in Shawnee County District Court, Kelley was prohibited from possessing a firearm, according to the affidavit.

Lawrence’s deadliest single event in recent memory was a shooting at bar-closing time on Massachusetts Street on Oct. 1, 2017. The gunman fired as crowds were flooding the street; three people were killed and multiple others were injured.

Jerry Wells, Kelley’s appointed defense attorney, said via email Tuesday that he and his client have no comment at this time.

Spokespeople for the Lawrence Police Department could not immediately be reached for comment Tuesday. LPD does not generally comment on investigations that have been submitted to the Douglas County district attorney’s office, but the Journal-World inquired, given the nature of the incident.

As a condition of Kelley’s bond, he is not to possess any firearms, according to documents in his case file. He is also not to return to The Wheel or The Hawk, although the affidavit does not indicate that Kelley was ever inside either bar.

Kelley’s next court hearing is set for April 6, online court records show, but because of ongoing interruptions to court proceedings caused by COVID-19, it was not immediately clear Tuesday whether that would go forward as planned.

Contact Mackenzie Clark

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