A teenager shot to death Thursday afternoon in the parking lot of a Kansas City grocery store was set to leave for college in Springfield, Mo., on Friday, according to his former high school football coach.
The teen was found shot inside a car in the parking lot of the Save-A-Lot store at 3410 Troost on Thursday afternoon. The store is near Troost Avenue and Armour Boulevard.
Police have not named the teen, but family members identified him as 18-year-old Roosevelt Cooper.
According to witnesses, Cooper had spent part of the day saying goodbye to friends and was getting a haircut at a barber shop near the Save-A-Lot when he was summoned outside to speak with someone. He never came back.
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On Thursday afternoon, while police interviewed witnesses and followed a blood trail in search of two possible suspects, friends and family members gathered at the scene, distraught. They were joined by anti-violence activists who called once again for an end to the killing that has plagued the city.
Hogan Prep Academy football coach Phil Lascuola said Cooper visited the school earlier Thursday to say goodbye to former teachers, coaches and teammates. Cooper was planning to leave Friday to attend Missouri State University.
Lascuola said he informed the team of Cooper’s death shortly after practice.
“The whole team is shocked,” Lascuola said. “We are all at a loss for words. You don’t expect to get that kind of news.”
Police were called to the store about 2:45 p.m., according to Officer Darin Snapp, a Kansas City Police Department spokesman. A security guard told police he heard gunshots and found the victim dead in the car.
Witnesses told police two males were seen running west away from the area.
Police found a blood trail leading toward a nearby apartment building, Snapp said, and were investigating that area.
Family members of the victim rushed to the scene, where a woman who identified herself as the victim’s mother cried in grief.
“They killed my son,” the woman said. “They took my baby. I was going to take him to school in the morning.”
An additional ambulance was called to the scene when the victim’s grandmother began to hyperventilate.
Several high school classmates and friends of the victim also arrived at the scene, visibly distraught.
Sports reporters from across Missouri had named Cooper a second-team Class 3 all-state defensive back after the 2016 season.
Cooper played both offense and defense for Hogan Prep last season and was a member of the school’s basketball team, Lascuola said.
Cooper only played one year of varsity football as a senior, but was selected to the annual Kansas vs. Missouri High School All-Star Game sponsored by the Greater Kansas City Football Coaches Association.
Lascuola said Cooper was a well-liked, talented student-athlete.
“He was a real good kid,” Lascoula said. “He did the right thing 99.9 percent of the time.”
At the shooting scene, the victim’s family was joined by the Rev. Branden Mims, a member of the Ad Hoc Group Against Crime.
“Absolutely tragic,” Mims said. “A young man — I understand — 18 years old, on his way to college tomorrow, to find out that he loses his life today, is absolutely tragic. This has to stop.”
Troost Avenue was closed to traffic while the investigation continues.