A week after Justin Zoucha was told by police he couldn't get into his apartment because there was a "situation," the Wichita man got his first look at the damage caused during a 32-hour standoff in two units above his.
Police had used water-pressure cannons during the standoff to knock down sheet rock so they could see inside the apartments and get tear gas inside. But it wasn't cleaned up.
"There's mold all over the place," Zoucha, who shares the apartment with his three daughters, ages 5, 8 and 12, told The Wichita Eagle.
The standoff began last Wednesday shortly after 24-year-old Jared Woosypiti fired multiple shots inside a Wichita Kmart store while trying to rob the pharmacy. Woosypiti, who also was wanted for attempted first-degree murder in a July 4 stabbing of a woman in Derby, was killed Thursday evening after a shootout with police.
During the standoff, Woosypiti broke through the wall of a neighboring apartment, prompting police to use the water-pressure cannons.
Zoucha came home from work that afternoon but was turned away by police. It wasn't until Tuesday that he was able to return to his home. He found white crumbles from the ceiling lying on his dining room table, and in the kitchen, some of the ceiling was on the floor. The couch, chairs, television and other things that made the small apartment comfortable are now destroyed.
He doesn't have renter's insurance, nor does he know if the city will help pay to replace some of his lost possessions. A call to the city by The Associated Press on Wednesday wasn't immediately returned.
"This is all 20 years of living," he said. "I don't know how to put a price tag on it."
The waterlogged apartment is dank and humid, and it's hard to tell whether crickets that can be heard chirping are on the inside or outside. In his daughters' bedroom, there was little that could be salvaged, though Zoucha carefully gathered up some of their artwork hoping it could be saved.
He said he was planning to work into the night Tuesday, "until I get tired of the smell."
His next-door neighbors, Don Cruz, 76, and his son Casanova Cruz, 52, also got their first glimpse of their apartment Tuesday.
Casanova Cruz, who wore a mask over his mouth and nose for protection, said he was upset because he thought they had renter's insurance but found out it was rental car insurance.
Don Cruz said his early estimate of their loss is $15,000 to $25,000, but he takes comfort in knowing that priceless family photo albums apparently escaped damage. The albums date to the early 1900s, when his family came to the U.S. from Mexico.
Just being able to return to the apartment provided a surge of energy, Don Cruz said.
Page 2 of 2 - "I feel so good that I was able to get in," he said.