Three Oklahoma men shot to death Saturday night in Kansas City were known to police as alleged gang members in their hometown of Tulsa, and each had criminal records, according to authorities.
The men died in two separate shootings, less than an hour apart, during a holiday weekend that saw a wave of violence across Kansas City and Kansas City, Kan. that included 15 shootings — seven of them homicides.
The rash of killings comes before the summer months when Kansas City historically sees an uptick in homicides, and in a year when the murder rate is on pace to rise for the third year in a row.
The three Oklahoma men killed in Kansas City were identified Monday by police as John W. Waldon, 31; Darren L. Harris, 46 and Andre L. Barnes, 49.
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Kansas City police said Monday they have not yet linked the death of Harris, found shot Saturday night on East 80th Street, with the deaths of Waldon and Barnes, found shot about thirty minutes later, eight miles to the north in the Ingleside neighborhood.
But Tulsa police said they knew the three men as associates and gang members. What the men were doing in Kansas City remained a mystery.
“The three do hang out here together,” said Officer Adam Ashley, a Tulsa Police Department spokesman. “It’s like the three amigos and evidently they went up there and got into trouble.”
Ashley said Tulsa police didn’t know of any connection the men had to Kansas City. Each had recently spent time in prison.
In Tulsa, Waldon faced a murder charge in connection with the March 2015 fatal shooting of a 37-year-old man outside a sports bar, court records show. Waldon was one of several men arrested in the case. According to media reports in Tulsa, he was accused of being one of those who opened fire in the bar’s parking lot.
Charges in that homicide were dismissed in September of that year after a prosecution witness failed to appear.
A year earlier, Waldon had been released from prison after serving more than two years for being a felon in possession of a firearm, according to Oklahoma state records.
Barnes had been in and out of Oklahoma prisons since 1992 on charges of false impersonation, being in felon in possession of a firearm, drugs and rape, according to prison records. He was most recently released after serving more than 18 months on a drug charge.
Harris had spent much of the past three decades in federal prison, sentenced to 30 years for his part in a crack cocaine ring when he was 18 years old, according to federal court documents.
While in prison, Harris wrote a blog on the website ConvictSoapBox.com, titled “This ain’t what you sign up for?” in which he said young people entering gang life were making a mistake.
“It hurts me deeply, seeing so many young homies signing up for something they really aren’t prepared for,” Harris wrote in a March 24, 2015, post. “Don’t get it twisted … I would rather you not sign up for the gang life and all that really comes with it.”
Released in October 2015, Harris was free for only about 20 months before Kansas City police found him dead from gunshot wounds about 9:30 p.m. Saturday in a vehicle in the 1600 block of East 80th Street.
About a half-hour later, shortly after 10:00 p.m., police responding to an ambulance call found Waldon and Barnes shot in the street at 28th Terrace and Myrtle Avenue.
Myrtle Avenue runs aside and below Exit 5B of the traffic streaming along Interstate 70, with houses bordering only the west side of the street.
On Monday, neighbors said that on Saturday night they had seen an SUV and a sedan on their street, the first parked in front of the other at the curb in front of an abandoned house on the southwest corner of 28th Terrace.
One woman, who asked that she not be named, said she heard popping sounds. “I thought it was those fireworks that you throw,” she said. She peeked out of the door and suddenly heard a barrage of what she realized was gunfire.
The woman said her fiance saw one of the vehicles drive down the street, suddenly stop, and then quickly back up the way it had come.
“Next thing you know, the neighbors came: ‘Hey there’s two dead bodies on the corner,’” the woman said.
An ambulance came, and then police. Paramedics were unable to save the men. Neighbors who spoke with The Star Monday said they didn’t recognize the men’s names and were surprised they were from out of town.
As of Monday afternoon, no arrests had been made in the case.
Sgt. Kari Thompson, a Kansas City police spokeswoman, said detectives had not established a link between the two shootings beyond the fact that all three men were from Tulsa.
Thompson said investigators are working both cases separately and are following up on leads to possible connections.
Those shootings were among several others that detectives responded to in Kansas City, including six nonfatal shootings.
Thompson said it wouldn’t be the first time this year the city saw that many shootings in a weekend.
By Monday, the city counted 72 homicides in 2017, putting Kansas City on pace to see an increase in homicides for the third straight year.
And that’s with the summer months of August and September still ahead, when the city historically sees greater numbers of killings.
Over the past 25 years, homicide rates have generally declined in Kansas City and nationally.
Across the state line, Kansas City, Kan., police dealt with their own wave of violence over the weekend that left four dead and two injured in several separate incidents.
In Kansas City, Kan., police are investigating four homicides from Saturday and Sunday, with no known connection to each other or to any shootings in Kansas City.
On Monday police released the names of the four victims: Edwin Igo, 49; Jaiferia Barnes, 28; Ricardo Uribe, 18; and Jeffrey Whitmore, 43.
All four were of Kansas City, Kan.
Igo was fatally shot Saturday inside a residence in the 4300 block of Lloyd Street. Police said the killing appeared to have been domestic-related.
Barnes was also shot to death Saturday in the 100 block of Walker Avenue.
Uribe was killed Sunday in what police described as a “rolling disturbance.” He was inside a car when he was shot. Another occupant of the car suffered minor injuries.
Whitmore was shot Sunday afternoon outside a laundromat in the 4800 block of Parallel Parkway.
Kansas City, Kan., has seen an uptick in homicides too, counting 21 so far in 2017. That city had counted 14 homicides this time last year.
Police on Sunday also investigated a shooting Sunday evening in the 1800 block of North 36th Street. In that case, the victim survived and was expected to recover. Police took a possible suspect into custody.
Staff writer Donna McGuire contributed to this report.