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Homicide trends hold steady in most suburban cities in the KC area

Updated: 2014-01-06T03:25:59Z

By TONY RIZZO and GLENN E. RICE

The Kansas City Star

With 29 homicides in 2013, Kansas City, Kan., was one of the few area cities to see an increase from the previous year.

Its total grew by seven, or nearly 32 percent. But officials note that the 22 homicides in 2012 marked a low not seen in more than 40 years. And it was far below the city’s record of 72 homicides in 1995.

Overall, the metropolitan area recorded 50 homicides last year outside of Kansas City, which logged 106 on its own, two fewer than the prior year.

Beyond the two Kansas Citys, Independence had the next highest 2013 total with nine, including a police-involved shooting from December that a police spokesman said would not be reported to the state until this month. The previous year, Independence had six homicides.

“It is all part of the peaks and valleys,” said Tom Gentry, Independence police spokesman. “Some years we have fewer, and some years we have had more.”

Gentry said authorities could not pinpoint a specific reason for the increase. In 2006, the city recorded only two homicides. But in 2008, the number jumped to nine, he said.

No other area city had more than two homicides in 2013.

Across the state line, there were six in Johnson County, the same as the year before, according to information from the Johnson County district attorney’s office.

Overland Park and Shawnee each had two. Olathe’s only homicide was the fatal shooting of an armed suspect by police officers last January. The county’s other homicide occurred in October in De Soto.

Both of the Shawnee homicides involved family disputes. In December, a man killed his wife and then shot himself, police said. And in July, authorities charged a 14-year-old boy with fatally shooting his father.

Like Kansas City, most of the homicide victims in Kansas City, Kan., were black males, and firearms were the predominant weapons used.

One of the city’s homicides was the police shooting of a man who allegedly attacked officers with a baseball bat. Another was ruled by prosecutors as a self-defense killing.

And the tragic incident that took the lives of a woman and her 2-year-old niece in February could have been even more horrible, according to authorities. The suspect charged in their deaths allegedly set fire to their apartment building, endangering the lives of numerous people, including 15 children.

Grandview recorded two homicides last year. In January, prosecutors charged 30-year-old Sonya Nerissa Perry with second-degree murder, child abuse and first-degree child endangerment in the death of a 3-month-old infant, Stephon McCoy, whom she baby-sat during an overnight visit.

In July, police found the body of 34-year-old Denzell M. Stacker sprawled on the pavement in the 6400 block of 129th Place.

Gladstone, Liberty, Blue Springs and Blue Summit each reported one homicide in 2013.

Just a year earlier, Gladstone had set a record with five homicides, including two just five days apart. The city recorded more killings in 2012 than in the previous four years combined.

To reach Tony Rizzo, call 816-234-4435 or send email to trizzo@kcstar.com. To reach Glenn E. Rice, call 816-234-4341 or send email to grice@kcstar.com.

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