First off, the sun shone.
“It was supposed to rain,” Forest Tyson Jr., said looking to the sky. “You think that’s a sign we’re all supposed to be here?”
A crowd of 250 or so gathered Monday evening in a gas station parking lot at 45th Street and Cleveland Avenue for a vigil for Tyson’s young grandson and the boy’s father. Both were shot late Friday when a gunman walked up and fired several rounds into their car while it was parked at the station.
A bullet passed through the 10-year-old, nicking his spine. His father, KáVyea Curry Sr., 34, died. Police initially said the boy was paralyzed, but relatives said late Monday he had improved and they expect him to walk again.
An unrelated 5-year-old in the car was unhurt.
Before Monday’s event, Tyson talked about hearing his grandson’s first words after waking up in the hospital.
“Papa, they shot my daddy in the head, and I think he’s dead,” the boy said.
Knowing the boy will remember that night for the rest of his life, Tyson said, “hurts me to the core.”
After prayers and tribute to the victims, Monday’s vigil turned into a rally against the no-snitch rule that prevails in some inner-city neighborhoods. Nobody saw anything at the BP station, a busy business on a busy corner.
“That’s foolishness,” Kansas City 5th District Councilman Michael Brooks told the crowd. “That young boy needs somebody to speak up for him.
“I hope if somebody ever shoots me, somebody talks.”
Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker pleaded for someone to tell police what they saw or know.
“There is no magic in my job,” she said. “I need a hero in this crowd.”
Community activist Pat Clarke used a different approach, acknowledging the no-snitch stance is part of street code.
“But if somebody hit your mama, you’d want to know who done it, right?”
Clarke also attacked the casual nature of violence that rules some neighborhoods. He’d recently seen young men wearing T-shirts at a funeral.
“They climbed over the pews like they were in a theater and the whole place smelled like pot,” Clarke said.
One man, Clarke said, boasted that 1,500 people would attend his funeral if he were to be killed.
“Death is not glory,” Clarke said at the vigil. “I don’t see nothin’ cool about being dead.”
When Tyson took the bullhorn and told about his grandson, a little boy — a classmate of the boy— cried on the front row. Then Tyson said he had to leave his grandson’s care to God.
“I want to talk to you all,” he said before asking for someone to speak up for his grandson. “Where’s the village?”
Lawanda Davis, one of the last speakers, told of losing her son in a drive-by shooting 22 years ago. The killing remains unsolved and now every time another young man dies violently on Kansas City’s streets, she relives her sorrow.
She knows something that would help.
“We can know our neighbor next door and the drug dealer down the street,” she said. “I’m calling the police and everybody else needs to get that mad.”
Something happened during the vigil to show that the “village” is not dead.
An old, white pickup, out of gas, coasted into the gas station. A call went out and four or five men ran over and pushed it to a pump.
Anyone with information on shooting is asked to call the homicide unit at816-234-5043 or the TIPS Hotline at 816-474-TIPS ( 816-474-8477).