John Albers, a principal’s teenage son in Overland Park, Kansas, was shot and killed by a police officer who responded to an alleged report of a FaceTime suicide threat by Albers.
Albers, 17, attended Blue Valley Northwest High School, where he was a senior. His mother is the principal of Harmony Middle School in the Kansas community, according to The Kansas City Star. The police are being criticized by some because the initial call for help came in as a call to help Albers, who was a youth soccer player.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Police Responded to the Home for a ‘Welfare Check of a Suicidal Male’ & an Officer Shot at Albers’ Car
In a press release, the Overland Park Police Department wrote that, on January 20, 2018, the police department responded to the 9300 block of W. 149th Terrace in reference to a welfare check of a suicidal male. “As the responding officers approached the residence to make contact, the garage door opened and a vehicle exited the garage, moving rapidly toward one of the responding officers,” the police news release said.
“The officer discharged his weapon striking the male driver. The driver died at the scene.” The driver has now been named as John Albers.
The Johnson County Officer involved shooting investigation team is conducting the investigation. The officers were uninjured, and the officer involved was placed on administrative leave pending the investigation. A police caption told The Kansas City newspaper that the officer who fired was “very shook up, as you can imagine. Anytime this happens, officers are very upset that it had to happen.”
Police formally named Albers on January 21, writing, “The individual from the shooting which occurred on January 20th, 2018 in the 9300 block of W.149th Terrace has been identified as John Albers (17 years old) of Overland Park, Kansas. The Johnson County Officer Involved Shoot Team will continue to investigate this incident.”
2. The 911 Caller Was Disturbed By What He Saw on FaceTime, Reports Say
The person who called 911 did so because they were worried about Albers after watching FaceTime, according to The Kansas City Star. “He took pills, and (was) drinking heavily,” the dispatcher said, according to the newspaper. “He (the 911 caller) saw this on FaceTime. He (Albers) also told (the 911 caller) that he was going to stab himself and he’s done with life.”
It was not Albers’ first contact with police. The newspaper further reported that Albers had “had been released to his parents earlier this month after he’d been charged in a misdemeanor domestic violence complaint involving a girl. His release was conditional, including requirements he refrain from alcohol, drugs and vaping, and that he participate in mental health treatment and take his medications as prescribed.”
There were other problems in his life too. “He had been charged previously in 2016 in a domestic violence complaint involving his mother and another family member. That juvenile division case was dismissed,” the Star reported.
3. Albers’ Soccer Coach Called the Shooting ‘Troubling’ & Labeled Albers a ‘Happy Person’
Despite Albers’ previous conflicts, his former soccer coach called him a happy person. According to Fox4KC, the coach, Bryan Turner, said he considers the shooting “troubling.”
“He just was a happy person,” Turner said to the television station. “So when I heard the news, it really hurt me because you always look back and think, ‘Is there more I could have done or said?’”
The station noted that Turner coached Albers “for a few years when he played for the Kansas City Soccer Club. He said Albers was full of energy and always very respectful. He’s not sure what went wrong.”
4. Students Held a Vigil to Remember John Albers
Students gathered in memory of Albers in a vigil, and some people who knew him took to social media to lament the loss of young life. “over this past weekend a boy I went to school with, john albers, called the cops because he was going to end his life, when the police arrived he was pulling out of the driveway, while doing so he was shot and killed in cold blood. aren’t the police supposed to be saving people?” wrote one person who knew Albers.
According to KSHB-TV, Emalee Stuart, a classmate of Albers’, told the TV station, “A lot of the kids were crying or writing his initials on their arms.” She called for more mental health awareness as a result of his death, telling KSHB: “I wish people would realize mental health is a big deal and it’s affecting a lot of lives today.”
5. Albers’ Parents Expressed Heartbreak & His Soccer Club Said He embodied the ‘Family’ Aspect of Its Principles
The Toca FC soccer club, which says on its about me page that it is a “group of coaches committed to the Christian faith,” memorialized Albers in a lengthy posting on Facebook. “It is with heavy hearts that we inform you of the passing of John Albers. John was a goalkeeper on our Toca FC 2000 Boys team and participated frequently with Toca City as well. He has been a member of Toca FC since 2015,” the statement read.
“John embodied the “family” aspect of Toca FC’s founding principles,” says Coach Spenser Steele. “You would be hard pressed to find a more loyal teammate. He always looked out for those around him, in both Toca City, and his age group team.”
“When John first joined Toca, he didn’t know anyone, but he heard about our Toca City program,” Coach Alec was quoted in the statement. “He asked to join us for a summer service trip to St. Louis. He bonded with the Toca City boys over that trip and started coming to Toca City games to play and sometimes just to cheer on the team. He will be dearly missed by all the boys.”
The statement included a quote from John’s parents, which read: “We are heartbroken at the loss of our beloved son, John. We truly appreciate the outpouring of support from friends, family, and community. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers and for respecting our privacy during this very difficult time.”