Federal Agents Shot In Gun Battle At Motel That Escalated Into Fire — Body Found In Ashes

What should’ve been the routine execution of a search warrant Saturday night escalated into a gun battle in which three federal agents were shot.

All three federal agents, who haven’t been identified, suffered non-life-threatening injuries. It’s not clear what happened to the man they were seeking to arrest — one of Kansas’ Most Wanted, Orlando J. Collins — but a body was found in the hotel after the shooting.

According to the Topeka Capital-Journal and WIBW, Collins had an extensive rap sheet. He was sought by federal agents on charges of attempted aggravated robbery and two counts criminal damage to property.

The 28-year-old had been linked to series of robberies, one of which occurred on Friday, when he allegedly held up a Kwik Shop while armed with a sawed-off shotgun. Police believe he’d stolen a 2011 Nissan Sentra, which was found ablaze 15 minutes after the robbery. The car was apparently stolen during a carjacking. He’d also been connected to an attempted robbery on April 6 at a Dillons, which is a grocery chain.

A federal arrest warrant had been issued for Collins on April 20, which charged him with robbery, and he’d earned himself a place on the Kansas Most Wanted List. Authorities considered him armed and dangerous.

The hunt for this suspected robber came to a dramatic climax Saturday night at 10 p.m. at a South Topeka motel, at which the federal agents were shot.

Authorities on a joint fugitive task force (according to Reuters, the force included agents from the U.S. Marshals Service, the FBI, and local law enforcement) were searching for their suspect on Saturday and tracked him down to the Country Club Motel, where they believed he was hiding.

An anonymous man who lived in the area said that police were looking for Orlando and a second suspect. During their canvass, police were said to be searching the Hi-Crest neighborhood, which is about a half-mile east of the motel.

The site had been evacuated and no guests were on the scene at the time as authorities converged to serve their warrant.

As officers approached the door of their suspect’s hiding place, gunfire exploded from the room. Witnesses heard dozens of shots fired. Three federal agents were shot in the process: two U.S. Marshals Service deputies and an FBI agent.

The FBI confirmed the shooting and said the officers were shot by an unknown person inside the room; authorities didn’t speculate who the suspected shooter may have been.

Soon after shots were fired, a fire began inside the same room. This blaze spread and ended up swallowing the entire building, destroying it as the fire raged through the early morning hours Sunday. The building has been declared a total loss.

When the flames and smoke cleared, federal agents made a grisly discovery: a body.

The corpse was found in the same room where Orlando was suspected to be hiding out. The body hasn’t been identified and authorities haven’t speculated whether it’s their suspect or another person. Identification via the coroner could take several days.The remains have been released to the Shawnee County Medical Examiner.

Federal agents are processing the crime scene and the fire marshal and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives are investigating the fire.

One of the injured officers has already been released and another has been reported as stable. KMBC reported that initial details from the scene of the shootout hinted that four federal agents were shot. The FBI has clarified these details to confirm that three were shot, but the fourth may have suffered a minor injury unrelated to the shootout.

[Photo by Prath/Shutterstock]