As shots were fired near the pickup truck he was riding in, 9-year-old Dominic Young Jr. protectively pushed his younger brother’s head down.
But a bullet struck and killed Dominic that Jan. 20 night. More than three weeks later, police and family continue to wrestle with what exactly happened.
Kansas City police photos show a bullet pierced the front windshield on the driver’s side and left deep holes in the hood of the rented pickup. Dominic’s father told police he did not realize his son was hit. He sped out of the shooting scene around Bruce R. Watkins Drive and Emanuel Cleaver II Boulevard and home to Grandview.
No charges have been filed as detectives continue their investigation. Police released photos of the truck to encourage witnesses to come forward.
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Because the shooting remains under investigation, police declined to comment on whether the boy’s father acted appropriately when he drove to Grandview instead of a nearby hospital.
Dominic’s father told police he was driving with his sons when people in two other vehicles began shooting at each other.
As the father drove onto the highway headed south, it seemed to him that Dominic and his younger brother were both still alive and talking, according to police and relative accounts. But when the father arrived home in Grandview and lifted Dominic out of the car, the boy’s body was limp.
“We’re still trying to figure this out,” Denise McCraney, the boy’s great-grandmother, said Wednesday. “He came in the middle of this crossfire shooting and it’s no way he would have went home had he known that his son got hit. He passed up a hospital.
“It happened so quickly. You can’t explain these crazy things,” said McCraney, who is the grandmother of Dominic’s father.
The boy’s 6-year-old brother told relatives Dominic pushed his head down to protect him from the flying bullets, she said.
Investigators questioned the father’s story after they found two sets of bullets inside the vehicle. McCraney said those bullets were from the crime scene. Dominic’s father said he had no enemies and did not know who would shoot at him.
Investigators asked the father why he drove home instead of getting help if he had nothing to do with the shooting, McCraney said.
Her grandson sped home because feared for their safety, she said.
“They tried to tie him into the midst of this and everything that he has given (police) has showed there is no way he was doing any shooting,” McCraney said. “I hate to say it but a black man is guilty until proven innocent.”
The reward for information in Dominic’s death as increased to $10,000. Last week, several elected officials and community leaders contributed additional money to the previous $5,000 reward.
Dominic, a student at Ingels Elementary School in the Hickman Mills School District, spent Jan. 20 roller skating, bowling and playing video games with his dad and his extended family.
Community leaders said too many children are senselessly get caught in the crossfire.
“When innocent children die from gun violence it indicates an irreparable breach within our moral fabric,” said Kansas City Councilwoman Alissia Canady. “The growing number of this category is a stain on our community. These deaths should never be treated as common and as a community, we must reduce risk factors in neighborhoods and address high risk lifestyle behaviors with parents.”
McCraney said the family remains prayerful. They hope an arrest in the shooting would help them find closure.
“We are still grieving with something so unexpected,” she said.