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Gunman who shot into crowd at Air Force deployment party pleads guilty ahead of murder trial

A gavel sits in the Luke Air Force Base courtroom. (U.S. Air Force/Released)

A Wichita man who police say fired into a crowd of party-goers outside of an east-side apartment complex in 2019, killing a 20-year-old airman stationed at McConnell Air Force Base and injuring three others, has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and three counts of attempted second-degree murder.

Monday’s plea to the reduced charges came ahead of Markeithen E. “Red” McClaine’s first-degree murder trial. The 28-year-old will be sentenced April 21 by Sedgwick County District Court Judge Kevin O’Connor, court records show.

Police said McClaine was in a vehicle with a woman who went to Horizons East Apartments, 505 N. Rock Road, to pick up a friend from a party on July 27, 2019, when a fight broke out in the parking lot at around 2 a.m. The party-goers were celebrating an upcoming Air Force deployment, according to an arrest affidavit released by the court.

Witnesses told police that some members of the crowd surrounded the car but eventually let it drive away.

When the car was in the clear, McClaine ordered the driver to stop, got out, aimed a .40-caliber Smith & Wesson handgun and fired a volley of at least six shots at the group, the affidavit states.

One witness told police “the disturbance was over and they were under no threat” when McClaine fired, the affidavit says.

Airman First Class Chancelor J. Williams, was hit in the neck by one of the bullets. The Spartanburg, South Carolina, native died at the scene.

Two other people suffered gunshot wounds to their upper right legs and a third was shot in the abdomen, according to the affidavit.

In his police interview, McClaine claimed he fired warning shots into the air before shooting into the crowd because he got scared after a man yanked him out of the car. He told the driver to leave after the shooting, the affidavit says.

Authorities arrested McClaine after the driver and her other passengers contacted police.

Depending on his criminal history, he could be ordered to serve as many as 54 years, five months in prison for Williams’ murder plus additional time for shooting the other party-goers.

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(c) 2022 The Wichita Eagle

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