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Suspect arrested in New Years beating
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A suspect was arrested Friday morning in connection with the severe beating of a 22-year-old Great Bend man on New Year’s Day.

John L. Shepherd was arrested on an aggravated battery warrant for the beating of Corbin Kern and booked into the Barton County Jail in lieu of bond.

Detective David Bailey at the Great Bend Police Department said the warrant was obtained from the Barton County Attorney’s Office after Shepherd was identified as the suspect. "It all started over a text message that got misunderstood," he said. Apparently a text of "Happy New Year" or words to that effect was taken the wrong way, which led to more texts and a confrontation.

Police were first dispatched to the Auto Zone store parking lot on 10th St. around 1:30 a.m. on Jan. 1, for a report of an unruly subject. At that time officers spoke to Kern, who was upset about a phone call and/or text messages he had received, Detective Denton Doze reported earlier. When the police were called back at 1:57 a.m., they found Kern in a pool of blood in the parking lot on the west side of the store.

He had been kicked and beaten to the point of being unresponsive. Kern was flown to Wesley Medical Center in Wichita, suffering from injuries that included head trauma and a broken jaw. Doze was unable to interview him for several days because of his condition.

Kern is still in the hospital in Wichita, where his condition is reportedly improving. Friends have held several fundraisers to help with related expenses, including a cookout held Saturday at Mike’s Meat Market.

Donations may be made to the "Caring Has No Boundaries" account for Kern that has been established at the Credit Union of America in Great Bend.