Crime

Son can't fathom crime that took his father's life on Overland Park school playground

As a Kansas City man was charged Thursday with murder in connection with a fatal shooting at an Overland Park school playground, the victim's oldest son wondered how something like that could ever happen.

Anthony D. Grable, 32, was charged with premeditated first degree murder, attempted premeditated first degree murder, three counts of aggravated assault, two counts of aggravated robbery and one count of burglary. He is accused of killing Todd E. Davis, 48, of Lee's Summit and critically wounding Efren J. Gomez, 54, whose place of residence has not been released.

The three men, who worked for SYNLawn (also known as Turf Etc.), were putting in new synthetic turf Tuesday morning at the Sunrise Point Elementary School playground near 158th Street and Roe Avenue. The company has declined to comment.

The motive for the shooting remains unclear, but a police spokesman said the gunfire apparently followed an argument over tools at the playground work site.

The suspect fled the school and had police scrambling throughout Overland Park with a string of carjacking incidents. He was found later in the south Overland Park home of the owner of an SUV he took.

Grable, whose bond was set at $1 million, was present via video at a brief court hearing Thursday afternoon, where he appeared subdued and emotionless. He said he had no questions about the charges, and the next court hearing was scheduled for July 13.

Davis' ex-wife and oldest son, who asked to be identified only by his first name, Tanner, attended Thursday's hearing. Tanner spoke briefly with reporters afterward.

"It's so hard to fathom and hard to believe that my father has been taken from our lives," Tanner said. "He was an amazing father."

Todd Davis had two sons and a daughter. Tanner said he and his sister have graduated from high school, and his younger brother is in middle school.

He said the most distinctive characteristic about his dad was that he was a family man who always put his children first in his priorities.

"No matter what job it was, he took it to pay and to take care of us," Tanner said. "He was a father that always wanted to spend time with us, to where he would be fine just sitting on the back porch, just watching us play in the backyard."

Tanner said his father had worked for the landscaping company for a little more than a year, enjoying the work and the different turf projects he worked on. That made it all the more difficult, Tanner said, to comprehend how a shooting could have occurred at such a job site among co-workers.

He said his father had dabbled in a lot of different jobs, always physical labor, which he liked.

"He likes to work with his hands and complete something and make something look really well," Tanner said.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to assist the family with funeral expenses. Tanner said he was incredibly gratified by the response.

"It is absolutely overwhelming to see the community behind us, the people that have loved him and that love us," he said. "We don't expect anything, but what has already been given and what people may plan to give is such a blessing and we are truly thankful for it."

He said the family is coping as best it can through the ordeal, rallying to support each other.

"It's us staying together," he said, "making sure no one is alone, to grieve alone. And we will move forward, as he would want."

Tanner said what happened is nothing anyone would ever expect or be able to prepare for, but he is forever grateful for his father's life.

"I'm thankful for the time that I was given with him," he said, "and I'm thankful for him to be my father."

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