Jackson County juvenile authorities have charged a 16-year-old boy in connection with a disturbance and shots-fired incident last week outside the Kansas City Zoo.
The charges include possession of a handgun, disorderly conduct and a probation violation. The teen remained in the juvenile jail Tuesday. His next date in court, which is closed to the public, was set for April 10. His name was not released because he is a juvenile.
Police said the disturbance started March 18 when large groups of teens began arriving late in the day at the zoo, when an estimated 19,000 patrons were already inside on a free-admission day for those from Jackson and Clay counties.
By 3:30 p.m., there were 500 to 600 teens and young adults congregated outside the entrance when officials decided to close the zoo early. It was scheduled to close at 4 p.m.
Off-duty officers working at the zoo called for on-duty backup, and they began trying to move people away from the entrance. That’s when, police said, “numerous” fights broke out at the entrance and in zoo parking lots. While officers struggled to break up fights, two gunshots were heard.
Witnesses pointed out two teenagers about 40 yards away as the ones firing the shots. Officers followed the teens past a park shelter. Police detained the youths, ages 15 and 16, and found a gun abandoned at the shelter.
Two witnesses at the shelter said they saw the older teen jog by and place the gun on top of a fire pit, according to police reports. Police sent the older teen to the juvenile jail and released the younger teen.
More officers, including tactical teams, were dispatched, and the situation was brought under control about 15 minutes later. The final zoo patrons were cleared from the area by 5 p.m.
No one was injured, but “numerous” arrests were made for assault and fighting in public.