The parents of a barely 15-year-old boy who died after being shot in the chest Monday in east Kansas City are frustrated by a lack of information about what happened and what police are doing.
Jaiair Strong was described as well liked and smart and a talented basketball player who attended Raytown High School and Raytown Success Academy. He was picked up by other young people at his home Monday and shot in the chest shortly afterward. Police said the shooting happened south of U.S. 40 near Willow Road, not far from his home. He died later Monday at a hospital.
His parents, Ivar Strong and Tanya Hughes, said police told them that night that a juvenile suspect was in custody. Earlier in the day, police said they were looking for two people in connection with the shooting.
Police acknowledged Wednesday that a case has been submitted to the Jackson County juvenile officer to determine whether criminal charges will be filed.
Police have not released the name of the victim, but his parents confirmed his identity.
“They haven’t told me anything,” Ivar Strong said of the police. “It’s so unfair. They won’t say anything about anything. We’re going through this grieving process.”
Hughes, with whom Jaiair Strong lived, agreed.
“I am so hurt and angry right now,” she said Wednesday. “I’m going through so much. I have so many questions and I have no answers. My family, we’re all hurt, shocked, grieving. It’s horrible.”
Hughes was arranging for T-shirts with Jaiair’s image in advance of a vigil planned for 4 p.m. Thursday at the site of the shooting. Another gathering took place Tuesday at Swope Park.
Police said Tuesday they were waiting for the parents to identify the body at the Jackson County medical examiner’s office before releasing the name of the victim. But Hughes and Ivar Strong disputed that.
“They don’t want us,” he said Wednesday. “They want to pull dental records and all this.”
Hughes heard of rumors on Facebook on Monday that her son had been shot but did not learn it was true until Monday evening.
Jaiair Strong had a twin sister, Jacie, and a brother, Jaden. Ivar Strong said someone posted Tuesday on Jaden Strong’s Facebook page and said he was the shooter but it was in self-defense. Ivar Strong said he doesn’t understand how that could happen if the shooter was in custody on Monday night.
Hughes said a lot of people were posting things that were not true.
“Jaiair was a great kid,” his father said. “A very likable kid. All the kids loved him. Very athletic. He was playing basketball since he was probably 5.”
Jaiair hoped to play basketball at a NCAA Division I school.
Hughes said she does not want vengeance but she does want justice.
“I want this to be an example to teens out there,” she said. “If they take a life, they do life in prison. They have to be away as long as my son.”
Jaiair’s death was the 16th homicide so far this year in Kansas City and the 22nd in the Kansas City area.