Aggieville leadership says dialogue with Fort Riley about proactive steps to address recent violence in the district are ongoing.
The nearly 100-business entertainment district features is the oldest of its kind in Kansas, and has recently experienced two separate shootings in a more than two month span since December. Most recently, Tremelle Montgomery of Fort Riley was charged in the killing of Joshua Wardi in February. A prior incident also involved a man out of Fort Riley, in which Joshua Cummings was arrested in the shooting of KSU football player Reed Godinet in December.
KMAN spoke with Aggieville Business Association Executive Director Dennis Cook about how area businesses have reacted. Cook says he’s not heard a lot from members, which he calls a good thing.
“I’ve talked with the university, I’ve talked with RCPD, I’ve talked with city officials, but mostly I’ve talked with Fort Riley command staff and nobody’s taking it lightly,” says Cook. “For the most part they recognize that this is — this is a terrible situation, but this is an individual situation.”
Cook says the two shootings are the result of ‘terrible decisions’ made by individuals, not something endemic in Aggieville. Even so, he says the district has no plans to ignore what’s happened.
Fort Riley has been in contact with Cook in the days since the most recent shooting, which remains under KBI investigation. Cook says while many are in California at the National Training Center, there are plans for a sit-down between the groups about possible steps to avoid a trend developing further.
“Probably at minimum we’re talking about a return of the courtesy patrols, where there’s Fort Riley officers down here in Aggieville on those, on really the three weekend nights,” says Cook. “Just to give a presence to know that if you’re a soldier we want you to be safe, we want you to do the right things.
“If you have a concern or something you can find and talk to an officer, and if you make a poor decision you know you’re going to talk to an officer immediately.”
Cook was unable to say why those patrols were cut-back by the post, saying they did not communicate their reasoning with the district. He speculated the COVID pandemic and staffing availability played a part. KMAN is reaching out to Fort Riley for details.
Cook also clarified that courtesy patrol officers are not military police.
“These are just officers that have got enough time in the service and high enough rank that they draw a lot of respect.”
Cook says despite the two high-profile incidents of late, those aren’t representative of the atmosphere and experience of Aggieville. He says some conversation among the community regarding cordoning off Aggieville with a controlled entry point is premature and beyond the district’s capability at this point.
“At this point, something like that would probably devastate this district,” Cook says. “We are a well-protected environment — we have a police substation, we have police on the ground out here all the time.
“These were a couple of individuals who made a terrible decision, but it’s not like we have become a hot spot for something like this. If you come down here and you’re down here at night, you can see it’s a warm, friendly atmosphere.”