After three men were shot to death while sitting in a car outside a Kansas City home early Wednesday, residents in the neighborhoods where the men lived said they feared a round of retaliatory violence.
Kansas City police released the names of the victims later Wednesday. The men were identified as: 34-year-old Kevin Murrell; 28-year-old Chad Cain; and 28-year-old Cortez Hanley, all of Kansas City.
The three men died in a volley of booming gunfire that neighbors said sounded like a war zone shortly before 1 a.m. outside a one-story, blue duplex in the 7100 block of Monroe Avenue. Neighbors said the three men appeared to be in their 20s.
Neighbor Anthony Thompson was one of several residents who said they were startled by the sound of the guns.
“I heard the gunshots and I turned out the kitchen lights,” Thompson said. “I tried to figure out all night what were they shooting at these people,” he said. “Whatever they were hit with, I imagined they were dead because that’s how loud the gun was.
“The force and the power of the gun, you could feel inside your home. It was like they were in the living room with me.”
Thompson said he briefly waited in the living room of his house and then went outside. By then, police were roping off the area and collecting evidence.
Relatives arrived at the scene and remained for several hours.
Police had no suspect information to release.
A next-door neighbor, who declined to be identified, said she had never heard gunfire so loud. At the sound of the shots, the woman said, she crawled on the floor and cried.
Another nearby resident who also declined to be identified said she was sound asleep when she heard four booming gunshots.
The woman said her son rushed into her bedroom and said, “Somebody just got killed.”
The woman said she knew the victims only as a neighbor. They had been very respectful to her and helped her at times, she said.
“Lord, how does this happen?” the woman asked. “Three of his children just lost their lives. Some mothers’ sons just got murdered.”
“I know this mother is upset,” the woman said of herself. She didn’t want to imagine if it had been her son who had been shot.
Relatives of two victims declined to discuss the shooting.
The last homicide in the neighborhood occurred in January 2012. Police found Cornell Maxwell, 54, stabbed to death inside his home at 71st Street and Monroe Avenue.
The neighborhood is made up of working-class families with children, a resident said. Children use the street to get to the nearby bus stop at the top of the hill.
The street is lined with duplexes, many with bars on their windows and alarm company signs staked in the front yards. Most of the lawns are neatly kept and have been recently mowed.
The house where the triple homicide took place is a few houses down from a weathered sign announcing that the area is protected by neighborhood watch volunteers.
Later on Wednesday, the neighborhood was quiet, except for the distant rumble of lawn mowers and leaf blowers.
Every now and then cars slowly rolled past the house as people inside looked at the home where they knew a triple homicide took place hours earlier. A dark-colored Ford Mustang sat parked in the driveway.
The killings left Kansas City community leaders once again looking for answers to the city’s violence and hoping more shootings aren’t on the way.
Pat Clarke, president of the Oak Park Neighborhood Association, said he hadn’t heard any more details about the homicides but viewed it as another example of how black residents suffer disproportionately from violent crime.
“I’m hoping this didn’t come from a retaliation of itself — that’s where we’re at,” said Clarke, who is black. “This is something that’s going to have to be worked out in the black community.”
There have been 60 homicides so far in 2017. There were 45 homicides reported during the same period this time a year ago.
Earlier this week, Interim Police Chief David Zimmerman said the department is looking at ways to combat the surge of violent gun crimes in recent months.
“We will be deploying some of our assets that are flexible and we are looking forward to getting that fully implemented,” Zimmerman said at a community meeting in southeast Kansas City. “Hopefully, it will have some impact on violent crime, especially in certain areas in the city. We are constantly looking at ways to try to retool what we are doing.”
Anyone with information about the triple homicide is asked to call the TIPS Hotline at 816-474-8477.
To see an interactive panorama of the neighborhood, click here.