A 4-year-old boy was fatally shot early Monday while riding in the back seat of a car after his parents unknowingly drove into a gunfight involving two vehicles east of downtown, Kansas City police said.
Police identified the boy as Mahsaan Kelley-Wilson of Kansas City.
Shortly before 2 a.m., the driver of the car moved through Eighth Street and the Paseo, where people in two vehicles were shooting at each other. One of the bullets struck the child. The driver headed to Truman Medical Center, where the child died. There were three other people inside the vehicle. No other injuries were reported.
Relatives said they are waiting to learn more about what happened. Mahsaan was in the car with his parents, said Elaine Nettles, his grandmother.
“All we know is that two other cars were involved, they were shooting at each other, and they got caught in the cross fire,” Nettles said. “It’s real terrible.”
Nettles declined to comment further.
Community leaders on Monday placed a cross and a teddy bear at the site of the shooting.
“We’re disgusted by this, and our hearts go out to the family and friends of the toddler whose life was taken all too soon,” Damon Daniel, executive director of the Ad Hoc Group Against Crime, later told The Star. “We offer our condolences to the family and extend the services that we offer, particularly grief counseling. We recognize this is a very difficult time, and we’re here to walk with them as they seek healing and justice.
“And to those who are responsible, we’ve asked that they turn themselves in,” Daniel continued. “If they are fearful themselves of being mistreated in any way, we’re happy to assist them with that.”
Speaking from his office Monday evening, Mayor Sly James was deeply frustrated and at a loss for solutions to these kinds of crimes.
“First of all, 4-year-olds shouldn’t be shot. That’s just one more time where we’ve lost a kid to gun violence,” he said. “Beyond that, it seems we have adopted an attitude that any problem can be solved with a gun, and everybody’s got a gun, so a lot of problems are getting solved with guns.”
The mayor acknowledged that homicides keep occurring in a “fairly concentrated area of town.”
“I don’t think I can be any more frustrated, upset and angry with the whole thing. At a loss for more ideas,” he said.
James said the Police Department is enhancing its intelligence gathering, and the chief of police is assigning more officers to homicides, but he’s not sure what the answer is to “guns, guns, guns in the hands of people that use them to solve problems.”
Anyone with information on the homicide is encouraged to call the TIPS Hotline 816-474-TIPS (8477) or Ad Hoc at 816-753-1111.
The child’s death is the city’s 47th homicide of the year and the second involving a child. Authorities have said the other child, 1-year-old Messiah D. Henderson, died June 1 from trauma inflicted by a friend of his mother. Messiah had sustained a severe head injury and a lacerated liver, according to court records.