A kidnapped five-year-old girl has been killed in a shootout between police and her suspected abductor following a high-speed chase.
The Kansas Bureau of Investigations (KBI) is leading the inquiry into the death of Cadence Harris, who was allegedly taken by Marcus McGowan, a friend of her mother’s, from Atchison on Friday.
Police said officers chased 30-year-old McGowan from Kansas into Missouri, before he crashed his SUV into construction barriers in Leavenworth.
There was then a brief gun battle with police in which the girl died.
There are conflicting reports over whether McGowan turned his gun on the girl or whether she was hit by a police officer.
Leavenworth Police Chief Pat Kitchens said on Saturday investigators could not rule out that the little girl was killed in the crossfire between officers and McGowan.
But KBI Special Agent Mark Malic, who is heading the investigation, said although the inquiry was in its early stages, it did not appear the youngster had been shot by police.
The two officers involved in the shooting have been placed on paid administrative leave.
Witness Irma Adams said: “It’s just shocking that they put children in harm’s way like that, you know.
“Children shouldn’t be put into any kind of dispute. There’s too much going on around here, too much killing as it is already.
“You never think things like that would happen close to home and it’s just shocking.”
An autopsy is due to be carried out on the little girl.
McGowan is being held on an arrest warrant for failure to appear in court, which gives prosecutors time to decide on charges.
He was due in court in connection with a domestic violence incident involving Cadence’s mother, according to official records.
The suspect’s family said McGowan was dating Cadence’s mother, and had lived with her in Atchsion.