Former priest sentenced for choking infant inside Overland Park Wal-Mart

Author: Tony Rizzo And Kaitlyn Schwers
Date Published: 01/25/2018
 Oleh Zhownirovych (Johnson County Sheriff’s Office)
Oleh Zhownirovych (Johnson County Sheriff’s Office)

A former New Jersey church pastor was sentenced Thursday for an unprovoked attack on a stranger’s baby inside an Overland Park Walmart.

Oleh Zhownirovych was ordered to serve consecutive sentences of 11 months in prison and six months in the Johnson County Jail.

Zhownirovych, 55, pleaded no contest in Johnson County District Court in December to charges of aggravated battery, a felony, and battery, a misdemeanor.

A kidnapping charge was dismissed as part of a plea agreement with the former pastor of a Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Clifton, N.J.

The incident occurred in October 2016 at the Walmart in the 7700 block of Frontage Road.

At a preliminary court hearing last year, a woman testified that she was waiting in a checkout line and had her 4-month-old daughter in a car seat in a shopping cart.

Zhownirovych walked up and took the car seat from the cart.

The mother said she had never seen him before.

“It happened suddenly,” she testified. “I was really startled, shocked.”

The woman said that Zhownirovych put the car seat handle around his neck so he and her daughter were facing each other.

He then said, “I’m going to take her. Call 911.”

He then placed his hands around the baby’s neck and began choking her, she testified.

“He was trying to get the breath out of her,” she said.

He was also moving away in the direction of the exit as if he were trying to leave.

She screamed for help as she tried to get his hands off her daughter.

Several people came to her aid, got the baby away from him and held him until police arrived.

The baby was not seriously injured.

Tony Rizzo: 816-234-4435, @trizzkc