Editor’s Note: This is the sixth in a series of stories featuring The Telegram’s top 10 news stories for 2014.
A Garden City man was fatally shot in broad daylight on Dec. 6 in a local grocery store parking lot.
Loren Wiseman, 21, of Wichita faces a charge of first-degree murder in the death of 32-year-old Jeremy Pascascio, after police say Wiseman shot Pascascio during a verbal altercation.
The story is No. 5 in The Telegram’s top stories of 2014.
Wiseman is expected in court again on Jan. 12, before Judge Michael Quint. The case has been assigned to a public defender. Wiseman remains in custody in the Finney County Jail on $900,000 bond.
If convicted, Wiseman could face either a Hard 50 or a Hard 20 sentence. The Hard 50 and 20 refer to the number of years before someone is eligible for parole. They are both considered life sentences.
Police responded to the shooting at Dillons East, 1305 E. Kansas Ave., at about 5:10 p.m. Dec. 6, and found Pascascio lying in the parking lot with apparent gunshot wounds to his upper body. Pascascio was transported to St. Catherine Hospital, where he later was pronounced dead.
According to police, Wiseman and an adult woman had driven to the parking lot at Dillons East. Pascascio approached the car after they parked. A verbal confrontation ensued, during which police say Wiseman shot Pascascio with a handgun.
Police received information that after the shooting, the vehicle Wiseman was in was driven to the nearby Garden City Family YMCA, 1224 Center St.
In the incident report, police reported the relationship between Pascascio and Wiseman as “unknown.”
According to a probable cause affidavit obtained by The Telegram, Wiseman told police in a sworn statement that before he shot, he told Pascascio to leave, counting down twice before shooting. Wiseman said he counted from 10 to one and again from five to one before firing the gun.
Wiseman said he and a companion, whose name was redacted in the affidavit, had left the nearby YMCA at about 5 p.m Dec. 6, where there had been a birthday party. They’d been asked to buy cleaning supplies.
According to the probable cause affidavit, Wiseman, who was in the passenger seat, said he saw Pascascio from a distance making hand gestures that Wiseman took to be “either gang signs or the motion of a gun.”
Wiseman’s companion drove around the parking lot seeking a parking space. As he and his companion were about to exit the car, Wiseman said he saw Pascascio standing on the passenger side of the vehicle yelling in Spanish.
According to police, at some point during the confrontation, Wiseman showed Pascascio a Lorcin .380 semi-automatic handgun, which he took out of the glove compartment. Wiseman told police Pascascio continued yelling and threatening him.
At that point, Wiseman said in his sworn statement that he told Pascascio, “I will shoot you,” after which he proceeded to count down from 10 to one. He said he did not shoot, however, until counting down the second time from five to one.
In the affidavit, several witnesses also said there had been a verbal confrontation between the two men before the shooting. At one point, a witness told police, Pascascio told Wiseman to “Put the gun away and fight like a man.”
Some shoppers at Dillons who spoke on Dec. 8 about the shooting described it as a solitary incident, one that did not necessarily reflect the general security of Garden City.
“I have shopped at Dillons most of my life, and I have never really felt threatened,” Phyllis Wells said two days after the shooting. “I think those two people had a beef with one another. I don’t think it was a random thing. He didn’t just pick out someone and shoot.”
Frank Unger, a Garden City resident, had just finished grocery shopping at Dillons on the night of the shooting, when a store employee said that there had been a shooting in the parking lot.
“I’ve been going into Dillons for over 30 years, and to see the shock and the horror of people coming out and realizing what happened, it’s something you just — nothing like this has ever happened at Dillons ,” Unger said the night of the shooting. “So it puts in the back of your mind — it takes away a little bit of your security.”
For Elvia Castaneda and Francisco Gomez, the shooting in the store’s parking lot was too close for comfort. Their 16-year-old daughter works at Dillons East, and was in the parking lot when the shots were fired and saw Pascascio lying on the ground.
“She said she wasn’t scared of the gunshots, just that she was in the place at the time when it happened,” Castaneda said on Dec. 8. “Just that it could have been her.
“It is a scary situation, but it can happen to any one of us,” Castaneda added. “Stuff like that happens, and we can’t prevent it.”