SAM MELLINGER

Another death at sports complex leaves us looking for answers

Updated: 2014-01-02T21:51:17Z

By SAM MELLINGER

The Kansas City Star

These words were going to be about a football game at Arrowhead Stadium, but then a man died after a fight in the parking lot.

This column was going to be about a team that won its first nine games and now looks overwhelmed after losing a third straight game, this time 35-28 to the Broncos, but that now feels incredibly empty.

This space was going to be about a defense that used to be the best in the league but now looks limp after giving up 103 points in three games, but what’s the point?

“You’re asking me how I feel about it and I don’t really have the words,” says Sarah Harrison, a 32-year-old Chiefs fan.

Someone came to a football game and died — exactly a year after Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher murdered his girlfriend with nine gun shots and then drove to the practice facility next to Arrowhead and killed himself in front of his head coach, position coach and general manager.

Someone came to a Chiefs game on a perfect Sunday afternoon and died in Lot A — the same section of Truman Sports Complex where a man shot a woman and killed himself before a Royals game last fall.

The Chiefs played in front of 77,065, a sellout crowd and the biggest attendance of the season. The game was broadcast nationally. There is no part of Kansas City seen by more people around the country and the world than the sports complex, which is now home to three deadly incidents in the last 15 months that have left three dead.

The place where some of Kansas City’s happiest memories are made is now a crime scene, again.

Police have three persons in custody in what was apparently a break-in gone wrong. A man in his 20s was found inside someone else’s vehicle, and by the time officers arrived, they found him lying unconscious on the pavement. It is being investigated as a homicide. A Chiefs spokesman said the team was aware of the incident.

At their best, sports are a common interest bringing strangers and friends together.

Other times, they are a spotlight on our worst.

At least 125 people have died in Kansas City-area homicides in 2013, after 157 in 2012. This incident will receive more attention than most because of its setting, because it’s easy not to think about someone dying in a neighborhood we hardly know — but how many of us have been in that parking lot?

Police chief Darryl Forte, who first reported the incident on his Twitter account, said the incident had nothing to do with the Chiefs-Broncos rivalry.

We don’t know if the tragedy was fueled by emotions from the game, alcohol or common recklessness, but it’s another incident in a growing list of bizarre incidents at the sports complex.

In 2004, an Indians pitcher was hit in the right calf by a bullet that went through the side of the team bus as it headed to the airport after a game. The pitcher suffered only a flesh wound, which team trainers connected to white go-go boots the pitcher was wearing as part of rookie hazing. Trainers removed the bullet from the pitcher’s leg on the bus. The shooting was ruled random, and police had no suspects.

Four years earlier, someone fired three shots into Kauffman Stadium during a game against the Pirates. One of the bullets passed through a woman’s abdomen and into her elbow. That shooting was also ruled random and from outside the stadium.

Crimes happen every day in our city, unfortunately, and everywhere else around the country. We should be able to do better.

We should especially be able to do better at the sports complex, which is supposed to be an escape but is on an awful run of tragedy.

That the most recent came on the Truman Sports Complex’s busiest day in years means there are more wondering the same thing:

What the hell is wrong with people?

To reach Sam Mellinger, call 816-234-4365, send email to smellinger@kcstar.com or follow him at Twitter.com/mellinger. For previous columns, go to KansasCity.com.

Deal Saver Subscribe today!

Comments

The Kansas City Star is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Kansas City Star uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here