J. Schafer

Contributing Reporter

J. Schafer is the news director for Kansas Public Radio at the University of Kansas. Before joining KPR in 1995, he spent 10 years as a commercial radio and TV newsman.

During his career, he has filed stories for nearly every major radio news network in the nation. This seems to impress no one, not even his mom. But then, she had hoped he would become a priest. 

In the fall of 2000, he worked for the U.S. State Department, traveling to central Asia to teach broadcast journalism at newly independent radio stations in the former Soviet Union. One of his passions is Kansas--learning about and promoting the state’s rich heritage, people and accomplishments.

A native of Great Bend, Kansas, he studied journalism and mass communications at Barton County Community College and at the University of Kansas. He was also an exchange student to Villingen-Schwenningen, Germany.

The pretentious “J.” in J. Schafer stands for Jeremy, but he doesn’t really care for that name. 

A Kansas City, Kansas, police officer has been fatally shot in the line of duty.

Capt. Robert David Melton was shot Tuesday afternoon while responding to a call about a drive-by shooting. Police say Melton identified the car suspected in the shooting and tried to intercept the vehicle.

That's when several suspects bolted from the vehicle and began firing shots at the officer. Melton was hit multiple times and later died at the University of Kansas Hospital. Police say several suspects were taken into custody.

Kansas Public Radio

Emergency officials are assessing the damage in Kansas after a massive tornado rolled across the north-central part of the state, destroying at least two dozen homes.

The tornado, nearly a half-mile wide at times, remained on the ground for nearly 90 minutes as it churned near the towns of Solomon, Chapman and Abilene.

The twister cut a path 28 miles long and crossed Interstate 70, the main east-west highway across Kansas.

Sean Sandefur

Oil production in Kansas fell sharply last year. According to the Kansas Geological Survey, oil production in the state dropped more than 8 percent in 2015.

Last year's steep decline in production and oil prices has been hard on those who work in the industry as well as those who receive royalties from mineral rights.

J. Schafer

Update from the AP:

A man accused of conspiring in a foiled plot to bomb a Kansas military base on behalf of the Islamic State group has pleaded guilty to conspiracy. Alexander E. Blair changed his plea to guilty on Monday in a Topeka federal court. Prosecutors say Blair helped 21-year-old John T. Booker in his plot to plant a 1,000-pound bomb at the Fort Riley military base to aid the Islamic State group. Blair admitted in court that he loaned Booker $100 to secure a storage space for the explosives and failed to inform law enforcement of the plot. Booker has already pleaded guilty in the case.

Abigail Wilson, File Photo / KMUW

Kansas Republican Senator Pat Roberts is painting a bleak picture of the nation's farm economy.

J. Schafer / Kansas Public Radio

Shawnee County officials are trying to determine the identity of a body found in the charred debris of a burned-out Topeka motel. The Country Club Motel erupted in flames Saturday night, during a shootout with federal agents. The gunfight began when agents were trying to arrest a robbery suspect who was believed to be staying at the motel.

The U.S. Marshal’s Fugitive Task Force was trying to capture 28-year-old Orlando Collins, an armed robbery suspect on the state’s Most Wanted list.

Courtesy Photo / Kansas Public Radio

Aerospace engineering students at the University of Kansas have made it to the finals of an international design competition. Their mission? Come up with the blueprints for a new space station.

IRA GELB, FLICKR CREATIVE COMMONS

Sex trafficking is big business and it's become a big problem in Kansas. Every day, women and children are held captive -- usually through coercion -- and forced into prostitution. It happens at truck stops, motels and dozens of other places.

Sean Sandefur / KMUW

Now that the wildfires in south-central Kansas have largely been brought under control, the search is on for missing cattle. The animals scattered in all directions when grass fires burned down hundreds of miles of fencing.

Gaten Wood, Barber County attorney and spokesman for emergency operations in Medicine Lodge, says they have not yet calculated the total number of livestock lost to the fire, but that reports say as many as 150 cattle have been lost.

Storem, flickr Creative Commons

Kansas colleges and universities are preparing for the summer of 2017. That's when they will have to start allowing students, staff and faculty members to carry concealed guns on campus.

Schools can opt out of this policy, but only if they spend millions of dollars to upgrade security measures.

One survey showed a majority of university employees opposed the idea of allowing guns on campus.

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