Dominic Young Jr. spent Saturday playing video games with friends, skating and bowling, nothing out of the ordinary for a 9-year-old boy.
Unfortunately, the horrific end of Dominic’s brief life is less and less out of the ordinary in the Kansas City area.
Dominic and his father were innocent bystanders caught in the crossfire of a rolling gun battle near Emmanuel Cleaver II Boulevard and Bruce R. Watkins Drive shortly after midnight Saturday, police say.
Dominic, a popular and well-liked third-grader at Ingels Elementary School in the Hickman Mills School District, was struck and killed by a stray bullet.
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Students at the south Kansas City school grieve for a young man described as outgoing, athletic, God-fearing and focused. He wanted to play professional football, his mother says, and buy a house for her and his siblings.
Dominic will never get that chance.
Last year, seven children in the metro area under the age of 16 died from gunfire. In some cases, the shootings were accidental. In others, like Dominic’s, they were not.
What does it say about Kansas City when a child is gunned down and barely a ripple is felt throughout the community?
Dominic’s great-grandmother, Densie McCraney, may have put it best when she said: “There’s no reason that a parent, a grandparent, a great-grandparent, anyone should have to ever live in a place, in a time that they’re burying their child.”
That place is Kansas City. The time is now.
In 2017, a listing using federal crime statistics ranked Kansas City sixth for violent crimes per 100,000 residents.
Both Mayor Sly James and Chief of Police Rick Smith pledged earlier this month to make it an urgent priority to reduce the crime rate, so shouldn’t they be publicly denouncing this particular act of gun violence that claimed the life of a child?
Or what about Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker, who often has responded when a child is fatally shot?
The collective silence is deafening.
Have we reached the point where we are numb to gun violence? Do we care that another young life was taken in this rinse-and-repeat cycle of senseless shootings?
Yes, family, friends, and classmates are mourning the joyful 9-year-old. And Dominic’s death will be marked by a proper memorial. But then what?
Where do we go from here?
The community must rally to help police solve the crime. Anyone with information — no matter how limited — about the perpetrators should come forward and provide those details to authorities.
Cracking this case must be a priority.
Crime-fighting activists should pool their resources, combine their networks and help develop leads.
Dominic certainly deserves that. He life was worth more than a footnote in this ongoing violent saga in Kansas City.