Tasha James and Tony Nevels sat shoulder-to-shoulder Tuesday morning on the concrete steps where someone shot their younger brother dead.
His name was Freddie Nevels, they said. He was 23.
They want peace. They want justice. But both seem maddeningly out of reach here on the 3800 block of East Sixth Street in Kansas City’s Northeast neighborhood.
People on this street want to help, they said. There are witnesses. There is surveillance video, they said. They had only a brief encounter with detectives on the scene immediately after the shooting.
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
After that, James asked, “Do you know how many detectives we’ve seen … in those all-important first 48 hours?”
She answered her question without a word, but bent her thumb and fingers together to show a “zero.”
The police took a call from James on Tuesday, and they have secured surveillance video, a department spokeswoman said. No video surveillance would be released, and there is no updated information to share, she said, except an assurance that “detectives are working tirelessly on this case.”
She urged anyone with information to call the TIPS hotline at 816-474-TIPS (8477).
For three days, though, James said, all the family has seen “is the people who did this, driving around taunting us.”
They knew their brother had been in a fight. No guns involved. He wasn’t into any gangs, they said. But someone came later and made sure that retribution took Freddie Nevels’ life, shooting him on this spot at 8 p.m. Friday.
“What do we do?” James asked in a fevered pitch. “The people protecting us — what are you doing?”
The family and friends will not retaliate, Tony Nevels said. “No retaliation,” he repeated. They heed the message for peace their father shared earlier with The Star, when he said, “Enough’s enough.”
There have been 85 homicides in Kansas City this year — a numbing number more than 50 percent ahead of 2016’s pace. But neighbors who stopped by Tuesday morning — like Jeff Bonner, 44, who has lived in the neighborhood all his life, won’t let Freddie Nevels be lost as just No. 83.
“I knew Freddie since he was old enough to walk,” he said, dropping his hand down knee-high.
“We don’t exist,” Bonner said of the attention given the neighborhood. He’s white, and he believes the fact that the neighborhood is majority black and Hispanic dulls the interest among the broader community.
“There’s not white justice, and there’s not black justice,” Bonner said. “There’s people’s justice. … We (in his neighborhood) are all cultures trying to come together. We’re trying to make it peaceful.”
Freddie Nevels was making plans, his sister said. He was a musician, she said. He was a drummer. He liked to sing. She was working with him on ways to “get his music out there,” she said.
She was thinking about her brother when she said, “We’re trying.”
She was thinking of their father, whose work was stacked in the yard beside them — rowed bicycles to be repaired, and appliances and motors waiting on his hands and tools. He raised his children on this work, and they’re trying to carry on.
“Our generation,” she said, “we’re trying. We’re trying to send our kids to good schools. … We’re trying to live in your neighborhoods. … If you won’t give us a job, we create a job.
“How do we catch up?” she said.
As the late morning sun heated up, Tony Nevels saw some of his small children off with a relative. They each ran by for a hug around his knees and a kiss on the forehead before they went.
“How do I explain to my kids,” he said after they’re gone, “that they’re not going to see their uncle again?”
James is left hoping police will do their work, and that her brother will be remembered.
“Me and my father,” she said, “we want justice.”