Crime

'This is very shocking' — Aspiring chef killed in KC put family first, relatives say

John McKenzie, 46, was killed on Friday in Kansas City. His family remembered him as a family-oriented man who is survived by two children.
John McKenzie, 46, was killed on Friday in Kansas City. His family remembered him as a family-oriented man who is survived by two children. Courtesy of the family

An aspiring chef was killed Friday in Kansas City, and his relatives say few details have emerged to explain why.

John McKenzie, 46, was found unresponsive inside a residence near 58th Street and Forest Avenue on Friday afternoon. He was later pronounced dead at a hospital, and a person of interest turned himself in to authorities on Saturday, Kansas City police said.

McKenzie is survived by two children, relatives said.

"This is very shocking," said McKenzie's cousin, Sherod Gilmore of Texas. "I don't know what could have happened."

Gilmore said McKenzie had studied the culinary arts at programs in Texas and in Kansas City.

On his Facebook page, McKenzie had written that he studied at L'Ecole Culinaire on the Country Club Plaza. He also wrote he was working at Zócalo, a Mexican restaurant on the Plaza.

"He wanted to become a chef and eventually have his own restaurant," Gilmore said.

Another cousin, Vertis Gibbs of Texas, said McKenzie had a "very caring heart" and always put family first.

On Friday, family members in Texas started getting word from friends and police there that something may have happened to McKenzie. Gibbs said she experienced confusion and disbelief over the past 24 hours, before police officially confirmed McKenzie had been killed.

Theresa Myers, McKenzie's half-sister, said a friend told her that McKenzie had been shot.

McKenzie grew up in Mississippi and last saw his half-sister at their mother's funeral in 2011.

He had once been a member of the Prince Hall Affiliation, a predominantly African-American group of Freemasons who work on service projects in their communities, Gilmore said.

Gilmore added that McKenzie often made a point of contacting his relatives to check in on them.

"He always ended the conversation with family first: 'I love ya, look forward to seeing you soon.' "

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