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May 3, 2013

Charges filed in KC shooting that killed Blue Springs couple

Howard Ray Stephenson, 43, of Blue Springs, is charged with two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of armed criminal action. Prosecutors say he used a handgun taken from one of the victims during a parking lot confrontation.

Prosecutors filed first-degree murder charges Friday in connection with the killing of a Blue Springs couple Monday night in east Kansas City as their young children sat in a car nearby.

Surveillance video captured the fatal shootings of Jaron Syrus and Qwentelia Vanzant after a fight broke out in the parking lot of a Blue Parkway business. Syrus told police before he died that Howard Ray Stephenson was the shooter, according to court records.

Stephenson, 43, of Blue Springs, is charged in Jackson County with two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of armed criminal action. His bond was set at $250,000.

Vanzant and Syrus, both 25, were with their 3-year-old son and Vanzant’s 7-year-old daughter when they stopped at a convenience store at 5401 Blue Parkway. A vehicle driven by Stephenson and occupied by several other people followed them into the parking lot.

During an ensuing verbal and physical altercation, Syrus pulled out a handgun, which was knocked from his hand and picked up by someone in the other group. According to court documents, that person handed the gun to Stephenson, who shot Syrus.

The surveillance video shows the gunman shooting Syrus several more times while he is on the ground. The gunman then turns toward Vanzant and shoots her several times.

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