By Jim Misunas
SALINA — Bank robbery suspect Jason Michael Gleason, 30, of Lyons, was booked into the Saline County Jail at 12:35 a.m. Wednesday on charges of attempted first-degree murder in the commission of a felony, attempted second-degree murder, aggravated kidnapping and a probation violation.
Gleason will face bank robbery charges at a later date, most likely in federal court, according to Kyle Smith, deputy director for the Kansas Bureau of Investigation.
Rice County Sheriff Dale Higgins said an initial identification of the suspect occurred after Trooper Grant Blaylock heard the physical description. Rice County Undersheriff Cody Goforth was involved in the initial investigation at the First Bank of Chase.
“We received great cooperation from all the agencies,” said Higgins. “From our department to the KBI and FBI, they all worked in concert.”
Trooper Ben Gardner said a trooper began pursuing a green sport utility vehicle about 6:30 p.m. near Assaria that matched the description of the vehicle used by a suspect fleeing after a bank robbery at First Bank of Chase, 509 Main.
The vehicle Gleason was occupying crashed following a police chase from I-135 to near Gypsum on Assaria Road. A shootout between the suspect and a Kansas Highway Patrol trooper ensued, according to Smith.
Smith reports three people were injured in the shootout, including a trooper whose face was cut when a bullet shattered glass. Two people in the suspect’s vehicle, a female and a son, were allegedly injured by gunfire, according to Smith. One injured party was flown by helicopter to a Wichita hospital.
The trooper was transported to Salina Regional Health Center for treatment, according to trooper Ben Gardner of the Kansas Highway Patrol.
Gleason then allegedly fled on foot and was captured about 9:30 p.m. south of Gypsum on Hobbs Creek Road, a half-mile east of Gypsum Valley Road, according to Smith.
Several dozen officers with the Saline County sheriff’s office, McPherson County sheriff’s office, Kansas Highway Patrol, KBI and Federal Bureau of Investigation searched between Assaria and Gypsum with the assistance of dogs and two KHP planes starting at 6:30 p.m.
“There were a myriad of agencies involved and we enjoyed great cooperation,” Smith said. “We love the cooperation we see in Kansas. Everything worked well.”
Smith said the woman’s involvement with the bank robbery and subsequent crimes was under investigation after she apparently drove the getaway vehicle. Smith said he was unable to detail the relationship between the suspect and the woman, who could be an accomplice or an unwilling victim. Sources indicate the woman worked in Lyons and her children attended Lyons schools.
Smith said the officer-involved shooting will be investigated.
The Salina Journal reported that local citizens were armed with firearms to protect themselves. Among the residents was Logan Owens, 22, a Kansas State University at Salina student from Alexander in Rush County.
At nearby Southeast High School in Gypsum, volleyball matches continued as scheduled. But the fans and volleyball teams were confined to the gymnasium until the search was completed. Students, parents, and fans were allowed to leave Southeast of Saline school at 9:25 p.m.
Gleason had been recently arrested in Reno County on charges of trafficking contraband in a correctional institution and failure to appear for a pre-trial hearing for harassment by phone. Kansas Department of Corrections records indicate Gleason was released from prison in June 2012 after serving more than eight years for a July 2003 conviction for robbing seven people in Hutchinson.