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Not guilty plea entered for man accused of slaying off-duty Lee’s Summit police officer

The Kansas City Star

By Glenn E. Rice And Joe Robertson grice@kcstar.com September 21, 2017 1:34 PM

A 22-year-old man charged with firing handgun into a crowd during a party in Westport and killing an off-duty Lee’s Summit police officer made his first court appearance on Thursday.
The court entered a plea of not guilty for Sean D. Steward of Kansas City to second-degree murder and assault in the Aug. 20 fatal shooting of Thomas Alvin Orr III.
Seward looked down as Circuit Court Judge Mary Weir read the criminal charges. Bond remained at $500,000.
Orr, 30, was fatally shot at a day party at Californos restaurant at 41st Street and Pennsylvania inside the entertainment district. Police said Orr, who also was a middle school resource officer, was not the intended target.
According to court records, a witness told investigators that they saw Steward fire a handgun and run down a flight of stairs and out of the bottom lower entrance of the restaurant.
The shooting happened after one man struck another man in the face, causing him to fall to the floor. Steward allegedly fired into the crowd, then sped away in a dark-color Dodge Charger. Another witness told police that several people at the party told her that Steward fired the shots that killed Orr and struck the woman.
Police found on social media sites photos from the party with names that witnesses said were identified with Steward. The photos had the Facebook names of “Stew Bird and Cuzzo Jay,” according to court records.
Orr had been with the Lee’s Summit Police Department since March 2015 and began assignment as a middle school resource officer on Aug. 14. Before that, he had worked for the Marshall, Mo., Police Department.
Police at first said the victim was shot after arguing with another man. However, further investigation revealed that Orr was an innocent bystander who was not involved in the disturbance.
Witnesses said that Orr took photographs at the party.
Steward was sentenced in July 2015 to three years in a Missouri prison after pleading guilty in Clay County Circuit Court to resisting arrest.
In 2014, Steward was also convicted in Clay County on traffic violations and possession of marijuana.
The next hearing in the case was set for Oct. 5. Steward said Steward plans to hire an attorney.

Glenn E. Rice: 816-234-4341, @GRicekcstar
Joe Robertson: 816-234-4789, @robertsonkcstar