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Creston man shot, killed in Kansas; attorney rules self defense

Published: Wednesday, March 6, 2013 4:28 p.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, March 7, 2013 7:25 a.m. CDT

SOUTH HAVEN, Kan. — A man who was shot and killed in Sumner County after he threatened a farmer and his 17-year-old son has been identified through a check of fingerprints, the Sumner County sheriff said late Tuesday afternoon.

The man, who was wanted by Iowa authorities stemming from a drug violation there, was identified as 42-year-old Joseph Lamasters, of Creston, Iowa.

The fingerprint identification was completed at the Forensic Science Center in Wichita, where an autopsy was performed after the shooting, said Sheriff Darren Chambers.

Chambers said authorities suspected they knew the identity of the man before the autopsy was performed.

On Monday morning, Lamasters failed to pay a toll at the Southern Terminal of the Kansas Turnpike Authority on I-35, about 12 miles north of the South Haven exit.

Lamasters was the subject of an extensive manhunt by law enforcement for several hours after he failed to pay the toll and fled, authorities said.

He left his license with a toll collector at the Southern Terminal after he could not pay the $6.75 toll, said KTA Lt. John Lehnherr.

The toll collector told him to pull over to the side of the road and wait for a Kansas Highway Patrol trooper.

The man fled in what turned out to be a stolen car, Lehnherr said.

The car had been stolen from a railroad storage area in Iowa and was registered to an Illinois owner.

The suspect abandoned the 1998 Chevrolet Lumina and fled on foot about 3 miles from the toll booth, Chambers said.

When the car was found abandoned, law enforcement officers warned residents to watch for the man, according to the Associated Press.

Later, a Sumner County farmer shot and killed the man after a confrontation on the farmer's property north of South Haven.

The landowner told the man that he was calling the sheriff and the man fled on foot, Chambers said.

He was spotted again on a relative's property in the 800 block of East 140th Street South by the farmer and his 17-year-old son.

They found him hiding in an outbuilding on property owned by a cousin, Chambers said.

The man threatened the farmer and his son, and the farmer shot him once with a shotgun, according to the sheriff and Sumner County Attorney Kerwin Spencer.

The man apparently died at the scene.

The suspect approached the toll booth at 11:11 a.m. and drove away three minutes later, Lehnherr said.

After officers searched for him for a little more than three hours with no success, the manhunt was called off.

"At 2:35 p.m., we canceled the search," he said.

"The man was discovered by a resident in Sumner County at 5:05 p.m. and a shot was fired at 5:31 p.m.," Lehnherr said.

Spencer said Tuesday that he did not plan to file charges against the farmer, based on an oral briefing of the shooting incident by Chambers.

Spencer said he was briefed on the incident at 6:15 p.m. Monday.

Spencer said it appeared that the farmer shot the intruder in self defense.

"The suspect approached the farmer and the farmer's son," Spencer said.

"The farmer told him to stop. He did not stop. He threatened him."

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