During the crazy first weeks of April, the Kansas City area found itself in the cross-hairs of the national media.
An anti-Semitic killer and random highway shootings in the Heartland make good copy on the coasts.
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But by April 18, those jarring events were old news for the network crowd. The satellite trucks had motored off to the next big story.
That’s when an idiot with a gun walked up to a car at a gas station in the heart of the city and started shooting.
In his wake he left a 34-year-old man dead and the man’s 10-year-old son with a bullet wound to the spine. A 5-year-old boy in the car’s back seat was thankfully not hurt.
A snippet of surveillance video caught the cowardly act.
Big news locally, to be sure. But a 10-year-old boy facing paralysis after being shot at an inner-city gas station is not the stuff of the national 24-hour news cycle.
It should be.
But such is the nature of the redundant normalcy of violence that plagues urban America.
Normal is not news.
So what does it say about us when we allow the shooting of children to become normal?
Oops, I feel that I’m starting to delve into being preachy, so let me dial it back.
Most of us, I know, would do whatever we could to help police catch someone who would commit such a crime.
If you witnessed such a horrifying crime, you would tell police everything you saw.
But that, sadly, was not the case in the gas station shooting. According to Kansas City police, a number of people in the area at the time scattered before officers arrived. Despite officials’ pleas, detectives said they received few tips.
Compare that reaction to what happened in those earlier incidents.
Overland Park police said that calls from witnesses were key in allowing them to make a quick arrest of a man after the April 13 shootings that left three people dead.
And during the highway shooting investigation, tips called in by the public were instrumental in leading police to the Grandview man who now stands accused in a number of those shootings.
Both cases represent the kind of community assistance that police say is essential if we are to stop incidents of senseless violence in our city.
But until more people are willing to reject the ridiculous and misguided code of silence that they adhere to, we’ll be stuck with an unacceptable normal.
On Thursday, a break came in the gas station attack through a combination of surveillance video, witness information and good detective work, and a Kansas City man was charged in the shootings.
But it’s too bad witnesses weren’t more forthcoming at the outset. The only way to stop something so wrong is to step up and do the something that we all know is right.