A Kansas City man accused of shooting a father and paralyzing his 10-year-old son was arrested through a combination of witness information and good detective work, Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said Thursday.
Dontae D. Jefferson, 27, was charged Thursday with first-degree murder and five other felonies in the brazen April 18 attack at a gas station at 45th Street and Cleveland Avenue.
Authorities say Jefferson walked up as 34-year-old Ka’Vyea Curry got into his car and fired eight .40-caliber bullets, killing Curry immediately and striking his son, Ka’Vyea Tyson-Curry, in the spine. An unrelated 5-year-old in the car was unharmed.
Baker said investigators do not know what motivated the shooting, but the boy’s aunt said the arrest was a great relief for the family.
“Now my nephew can be at ease. He no longer has to sleep with his eyes open,” Ky Martin said.
Ka’Vyea remains hospitalized and on a respirator.
Kansas City police detectives Alane Booth and Robert Guffey visited him and learned what he wanted more than a visit from a Kansas City Chiefs player was a book about American presidents. The detectives went to get him one and Ka’Vyea gave a faint thumbs-up when he received it, Baker said at a news conference announcing the charges.
“Then they left that hospital room, and they solved this case,” she said.
The shooting shocked a community already reeling from violence. Officials pleaded with the public to offer information, but tips were few.
According to court documents, however, the break came from surveillance video at the BP station and from people who were interviewed Wednesday.
Video showed that two men arrived and parked at the gas station shortly after 9:30 p.m., about half an hour before the shooting. Their vehicle was a black Chevrolet Tahoe with chrome door trim and other distinguishing features. Video from inside the station’s convenience store captured images of the men, one of whom had a large-faced wristwatch and a white cellphone.
Curry, his son and the other boy were also captured on the interior video. They had bought candy and juice before returning to their car parked at the pumps.
According to court documents, Jefferson then left the store and put on a dark hoodie while his associate drove the Tahoe out of the parking lot, stopped on 45th Street and turned off the vehicle’s lights.
Video shows the shooter then walked to the victims’ car and began firing at close range before running off toward the Tahoe.
“He pulled a gun and he fired repeatedly into that car,” Baker said. “This is a case that really strikes at the heart of the community, when a murder of a father happens in front of two children, with no regard for the children’s safety in that car on a busy gas station parking lot.”
On Wednesday afternoon, detectives spotted a black Tahoe matching the description from the gas station driving north on Prospect Avenue at 47th Street. They followed it to a business parking lot at 30th and Prospect, where a man who matched the shooter’s description got out and began walking north. He had a large-face watch and a white cellphone.
Another man, recognized by a detective as the associate from the video, soon appeared, also on foot. Both were detained by uniformed police officers.
A third person, identified in court documents as a witness, told police Jefferson said there were police in the area and told him Wednesday afternoon to drive the Tahoe to 27th and Prospect. Jefferson allegedly said he and his associate would meet the witness there.
The witness, not being told of the murder investigation, later identified both Jefferson and the other man from the gas station video.
The registered owner of the Tahoe also identified Jefferson and said he had been in possession of the vehicle. A search found a loaded .40-caliber handgun and a 20-round box of ammunition with 11 bullets missing.
According to court documents, the associate acknowledged to police that he and Jefferson had been at the gas station that night. He said he heard multiple gunshots before Jefferson ran to the Tahoe, jumped in the driver’s seat and tossed out a dark hoodie on southbound Bruce Watkins Drive.
In addition to murder, Jefferson is charged with armed criminal action, discharging a firearm at a motor vehicle, endangering the welfare of the second child and being a felon in possession of a firearm. Bond was set at $500,000.
Jefferson pleaded guilty in 2004 to an armed robbery in Grandview and was sentenced to 10 years. He was released in August.
Martin said a “Ka’Vyea Buddha-Curry Foundation” has been established at Bank of America to help pay for medical expenses and to purchase a wheelchair van that he and his mother will need. Martin said her nephew, whose nickname is Buddha, showed signs of infection Wednesday but was responding to antibiotics on Thursday.
“I have been crying for days,” Martin said. “I just want to thank everyone who helped in this case and did not give up. My sister wants to thank everyone, as well. She doesn’t want to leave Ka’Vyea’s side.
“I can now cry tears of joy and just focus now on Ka’Vyea getting better,” she said.