A Kansas City police officer shot a man who was firing into a crowd of people as the bars closed in Westport early Sunday morning, according to the Kansas City Police Department.
Gunfire — the sound of at least two dozen shots was captured on the home security video camera of a Westport resident who lives a block from the shooting — erupted in the neighborhood just before 3 a.m.
Police officers patrolling an area near 40th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue observed a man shooting into a crowd of people. An officer fired his weapon at the suspect, who was shot and transported to the hospital in critical condition.
Shortly after, Jackson County sheriff’s deputies found two male victims suffering from gunshot wounds in a vehicle that was fleeing the scene of the shooting.
Police believe the two men, who were transported to a hospital in stable condition, were shot by the suspect. The suspect’s gun was recovered at the scene.
Patti Meier, a Westport resident who lives on 39th Terrace, woke to the sound of gunfire Sunday morning. She heard the sound of police sirens and watched from her second-floor deck as ambulances gathered in the Marsh’s Sun Fresh Market parking lot.
On Sunday, Meier watched surveillance video from her home security system and counted gunshots in rapid succession.
In the video, more than a dozen gunshots are heard, then at least four more-distant shots. Sirens are heard in the distance as more shots ring out.
The time stamp on the footage, which Meier gave The Star permission to view and share, is 2:48 a.m.
Sunday’s shooting is one of several late-night shootings that have occurred in the Westport entertainment district in the past year.
In September, at least seven people were injured in a shooting spree in the parking lot behind AC Hotel Westport.
Later in the fall, police investigated a November shooting in which two women were shot near Westport and Mill Roads and suffered injuries that were not life-threatening.
Last month, a woman was shot while being robbed by a man on foot near Westport Road and Broadway Boulevard.
The shootings have at least in part inspired a push to privatize a stretch of Westport streets.
The Kansas City Plan Commission was expected to review a proposal to privatize Pennsylvania Avenue from West 40th Street on the north to Archibald Street and Westport Road from Broadway on the east to Mill Street, but a meeting planned for last month, and then postponed to July 18, has been postponed once again.
Supporters of the proposal say that privatizing the street would improve safety because it would allow police to use metal detectors to check individuals for weapons and ban guns outright from the entertainment area.
Critics say giving up public streets is unnecessary and worry that the Westport district could start charging patrons for access.
Jackson County prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said Sunday that she was concerned about an increase in the “brazenness” of gun violence in the city, and new, less restrictive gun laws passed earlier this year that she said have made it more difficult to crack down on irresponsible gun use.
Citizen-on-citizen shoot-outs in Kansas City have increased, Peters Baker said, and not just in entertainment districts such as Westport.
“We are having (shoot-outs) in very highly populated urban core settings on public streets,” Peters Baker said. “They aren’t inside the house or in moving cars. We have people all on foot shooting at each other through crowds, and they are heavily armed.”
Gun laws expanding “stand-your- ground” rights and allowing most gun owners to carry a concealed weapon without a permit have hurt urban core centers more than rural or suburban areas, Peters Baker said.
The new laws put a burden on police officers who are responding more and more to active shoot-out situations, Peters Baker said, and it gives her fewer options to consider when she investigates officer and civilian conduct in cases such as the Sunday shooting in Westport.
“Since I’m stuck with the laws that we have and a legislature that has not heeded my concerns, I have to go with what I have, so I’m begging for responsibility with weapons,” Peters Baker said. “It’s the last thing I have left...imploring people to be responsible.”