Defendant in bridge shooting case still awaiting evaluation

John Richmeier
The Leavenworth Times

A man who is accused of shooting at people last year on the Centennial Bridge is still awaiting a mental health evaluation at a state hospital.

The case against Jason R. Westrem cannot proceed while the evaluation is pending.

Westrem, 38, Houston Lake, Missouri, is charged in Leavenworth County District Court with nine felony counts including attempted first-degree murder in connection to a May 27, 2020, incident on the Centennial Bridge.

The bridge stretches across the Missouri River from north Leavenworth to Platte County, Missouri.

Westrem is accused of firing at occupied vehicles on the bridge.

An affidavit prepared by a Leavenworth police detective alleges Westrem fired at least 15 shots from a handgun and at least 23 rounds from an AR-15 style rifle.

One person was wounded by gunfire. Westrem also was injured when he reportedly was struck by a vehicle.

David Royer has been credited with stopping the shooting incident by striking the suspect with his pickup truck.

In September, District Judge Gerald Kuckelman granted a request for Westrem to be evaluated at a state hospital in Larned. One of reasons for the evaluation is to determine if the defendant is competent to stand trial.

Westrem, who is free on bond, appeared Friday in court for a status hearing.

Kuckelman was informed that space has not yet become available for the defendant at the state hospital. But the judge said it sounds as if Westrem may be getting close to being able to go to the hospital for the evaluation.

The judge scheduled another hearing for Aug. 6 to see if the defendant has gone to the hospital.

In addition to the attempted murder charge, Westrem is facing two counts of aggravated assault, two counts of aggravated endangering a child and four counts of discharging a firearm at an occupied vehicle.

Friday’s hearing was conducted using the Zoom online videoconferencing service. Zoom is being used for many proceedings in Leavenworth County District Court because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Twitter: @LVTNewsJohnR