Kansas man arrested in high-speed chase that ended with 5-year-old girl fatally shot

The Associated Press
July 21, 2014 06:55 PM

Christina Harris of Leavenworth, Kan., whose 5-year-old daughter Cadence Harris was fatally shot after a high-speed police chase Friday night, speaks with reporters Monday, July 21, 2014 after Leavenworth Police Chief Pat Kitchens announced that the girl's alleged abductor was arrested on six charges, including first-degree felony murder. (AP Photo/Bill Draper)

LEAVENWORTH, Kan. - An eastern Kansas man was arrested late Monday afternoon on suspicion of first-degree felony murder and five other charges related to an abduction, police chase and fatal shooting of a 5-year-old girl three days earlier.

Marcus McGowan, 30, of Atchison remains under guard in a Kansas City-area hospital with wounds that are not life-threatening after police say he was shot at the end of a high-speed chase that went into Missouri and back across the state line into Leavenworth, Kansas. After the confrontation, officers found 5-year-old Cadence Harris dead in McGowan's car.

At a news conference Monday, Leavenworth Police Chief Pat Kitchens declined to discuss details of the case or declare that McGowan had fired the fatal shot.

However, "the fact that he was charged with that crime (first-degree murder), take it however you want," the chief said.

Kansas authorities said they began pursuing McGowan on Friday night after receiving a report that he had abducted a young girl from a home in Atchison, where he, the girl and her mother lived with his grandparents. Police said McGowan eluded police in Atchison. At 7:30 p.m. Platte County, Missouri, authorities notified Leavenworth, Kansas, police they were in a high-speed pursuit of a man believed to have abducted a child.

The chase ended at a construction site in Leavenworth, where police said McGowan was shot after turning a gun on officer. Cadence was found dead of a gunshot in McGowan's vehicle. On Saturday, Kitchens said it was not clear who had shot her.

Kitchens said Monday that Leavenworth County prosecutor Todd Thompson has been asked to also charge McGowan with aggravated kidnapping, aggravated endangering of a child, aggravated assault against a law enforcement officer, felony fleeing and eluding and criminal possession of a firearm.

The chief said he called Monday's news conference to quash rumours that McGowan was going to be released from the hospital without being charged.

Cadence's mother, Christina Harris, told reporters after the news conference that she and McGowan had been involved in an on-again, off-again relationship over five years that often was abusive.

She said the two had gotten into an argument Friday and that McGowan took the girl while Harris went across the street to call the police.

The girl, who was not McGowan's biological daughter, had been around him most of her life, Harris said.

"He loved her. He never hurt her," she said.

McGowan's grandmother, Norma Campbell, told KCTV over the weekend that McGowan loved Cadence like she was his own daughter.

Campbell said McGowan battles mental illness and that he called her Friday night just before his confrontation with police.

"He just kept calling me and saying he was tired. He was intending to die. He really was," said Campbell.

A phone number listed for Campbell is disconnected.


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