As she watched football on television Monday night, Anita Howard heard an unusual sound rock her Kansas City neighborhood.
She went to her front door, which was framed with holiday greenery, and looked outside. She soon caught the sound of police sirens headed to her block.
Howard didn’t know it yet, but she’d just heard the city’s 100th and 101st homicides of the year. Bullets fired in the 7300 block of Wabash Avenue also wounded a third person as they pushed the city’s annual homicide tally into triple digits for the eighth time in 10 years.
The number climbed to 102 later Monday night, after a killing in the Northeast area.
“It’s unacceptable, but it is a larger issue than just a law enforcement issue,” said Police Chief Darryl Forté. “It is about individual responsibility and accountability.”
A year ago, city leaders and the law enforcement community celebrated a historic 23 percent drop in killings.
Now, homicides are up 26 percent over last year. In other words, the city’s killing rate is back to average.
Accessibility to firearms remains a concern among police and elected officials. Firearms have been used in more than 80 homicides so far this year.
“Every year we have more people die for no good reason and we keep talking about it, talking about it, talking about it, and there is (only) so much the police can do,” Mayor Sly James said Tuesday. “There is so much that a prosecutor can do.
“…Until we start doing something about the instrumentalities of death, then we are going to continue to have the same results.”
Just after 9 p.m. Monday, a vehicle pulled up next to a parked car on Wabash Avenue, police said. Someone began shooting at people in the parked car. One occupant jumped out and ran but got hit by gunfire, police said. That man died at the scene.
Two other wounded men showed up at a local hospital. One of those died.
About two hours later, someone shot 19-year-old Sylvester Murishie. Police found his body behind an apartment in the 400 block of Maple Boulevard in the Northeast area. No one had been arrested in the slaying Tuesday.
On Wabash Avenue, several area residents said they heard the Monday night gunfire.
James M. Johnson, whose home stands about half a block from where police found the body, was dismayed to learn the victim represented Kansas City’s 100th homicide of 2015.
He believes police are making a sincere effort to confront the violence. He praised the department for building the new East Patrol station and regional crime lab at 27th Street and Prospect Avenue, in a neighborhood that needed more police presence.
“But what else can they possibly do?” he asked. “If some people are determined to be involved in drugs or other dangerous activities, I don’t know how you are going to stop them.”
Johnson, who has lived in his Wabash Avenue home for 34 years, frets about what he considers a decline in the neighborhood’s stability and safety. Empty bottles and other trash litter the front yard of a nearby home.
“This used to be a pristine neighborhood,” he said.
But Anita Howard, whose parents bought her home 43 years ago, said the shootings were not typical of her neighborhood.
“I’m not moving,” she said.