With the seventh game of the NBA finals on the television, the annual Father’s Day barbecue was in full swing and turning into a raucous and joyous family gathering.
Mahsaan Kelley-Wilson, 4, frolicked with other children. Summer, still officially a day away, felt in full swing.
Hours later, tragedy struck.
As Mahsaan and his family headed home about 2 a.m. Monday, their car eased into the intersection at Eighth Street and the Paseo. Mahsaan’s father, Andrew Wilson, felt a sense of uneasiness when he noticed a van full of people to his left. A car on the right also caught his eye, his cousin Kymbr Logan said Tuesday.
A gunbattle between the van and the car was about to erupt.
“He became discombobulated,” Logan said. “By the time he knew what was happening, he tried to speed off and they (gunfire) got the tail end of the car.”
A bullet ripped through the backseat and struck Mahsaan, who was sitting next to his 9-month-old brother. Wilson raced the family car to Truman Medical Center, but it was too late.
Mahsaan, who loved watching “PAW Patrol” cartoons, going to Chuck E. Cheese and playing with his toys, was pronounced dead at the hospital.
On Tuesday afternoon, Mahsaan’s family stood in a grassy field at Sanford Brown Plaza, visibly grieving and quietly angry as they spoke of delaying funeral plans as Kansas City police continued to investigate the killing of their son.
Mahsaan was a outgoing, happy child who loved to dance, hammed it up for his family when cameras were around and looked forward to starting pre-kindergarten next year, said Logan, who spoke for Mahsaan’s parents, who were too distraught to talk.
The little boy’s death is the second homicide involving a child this year, and more than 16 children have been killed in the Kansas City area in the past two years. Last fall, The Star showed that most of these children died of abuses at the hands of their parents or were unintended targets of gunfire. The other child killed in Kansas City this year, 1-year-old Messiah D. Henderson, died June 1 from trauma allegedly inflicted by a friend of his mother.
“We have to do better in this community. We’ve got to stop allowing our babies to get killed,” said Rosilyn Temple, the executive director of the anti-crime group KC Mothers in Charge. “This is black-on-black homicide. We are doing it to ourselves. If we don’t stop this and come together and take a stand, we are going to keep continuing to have this.”
Mayor Sly James lamented the loss of another innocent child in a senseless shooting incident but said Kansas City is stymied in its gun control efforts because the state has such lax gun laws.
“I don’t think I can be any more frustrated, upset and angry with the whole thing. At a loss for more ideas,” he said.
James said the Police Department is enhancing its intelligence gathering ability, and Police Chief Darryl Forté has assigned additional resources to solving homicides and related crimes. But the mayor is not sure what the answer is to “guns, guns, guns in the hands of people that use them to solve problems.”
The mayor said there are no real gun laws in Missouri to prevent these types of incidents or limit the flow of guns into the streets of Kansas City despite his lobbying efforts and those of Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker and others with the Missouri legislature. He said the city also gets no help from Congress.
A vigil to celebrate Mahsaan’s life is planned for 7 p.m. Wednesday at Sanford Brown Plaza, Linwood Boulevard and Brooklyn Avenue. Mahsaan spent time at the park when he visited a grandmother who lives nearby.
“It was a senseless crime,” Logan said. “He is just 4 and he meant everything to us. But we are a big family, we are a strong family, we are a close family and a praying family.”
Logan said relatives will rely on their faith to help deal with the loss of such a young life.
“He never got the opportunity or the chance to live his life,” she said. “And now we actually have to bury him. It will be a small casket, so it will be tough on everyone.”
She joined a chorus of community leaders and others who have urged the shooters to turn themselves in to police.
“We’re asking whoever did it to come forward,” Mary Elma Mitchell, the child’s aunt, said Tuesday. “Even if it was an accident, just say it was an accident. Don’t let us grieve not knowing who did it.”
As an elementary school teacher, Logan said she knows how gun violence affects the urban core.
“We need to get these people off the street because if they are more than willing to shoot recklessly throughout our streets, our neighborhoods, then we must put these people away,” she said.
Logan a created GoFundMe page to raise money for Mahsaan’s family.