Gunfire erupted in the Westport entertainment district early Sunday morning, injuring two people, according to police.
The shooting occurred about 2:45 a.m. Sunday at Westport Road and Pennsylvania Avenue. That is in the heart of the area where the Kansas City Council voted to allow the privatization of sidewalks on weekend nights to allow new security measures for keeping weapons out.
The new measures, which are expected to include metal detectors, are not in place yet because the privatization hasn’t been completed, said Kim Kimbrough, executive director of the Westport Regional Business League.
“We’re still chasing the requirements that the city has placed upon us, the most onerous of which is that we have 22 adjoining property owners who have to sign off on this,” Kimbrough said on Sunday. “We’re almost there, but it’s taking an enormous amount of time because of the time of the year in which we were given these requirements.”
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Early Sunday morning, an off-duty officer working in Westport saw a person fire a handgun into a group of people, police said. The officer then chased the shooter and arrested him.
The shooting victims were taken to a hospital with injuries that were not life-threatening.
On Sunday evening, Jackson County prosecutors announced that Davontae McCutchen, 24, and Anthony Boykin, 26, had been charged in the shooting.
McCutchen, the shooter, is charged with two counts of second-degree assault, two counts of armed criminal action and resisting arrest.
A police officer also observed Boykin, who has previously been convicted on felony robbery charges, standing near McCutchen with a gun in his waistband. He dropped the gun while running away from Westport Public Safety.
He has been charged as a felon in possession of a firearm.
Westport business leaders had pushed for the privatization as a way of keeping weapons and violence out of the popular entertainment district.
The Kansas City Council voted late last year to allow the privatization. The council in December approved ordinances that allowed the city to relinquish ownership of sidewalks on weekend nights along the district’s main entertainment corridors to the Westport Community Improvement District.
The sidewalks privatized under the measure will include those on Westport Road from Broadway Boulevard to Mill Street and on Pennsylvania from 40th to Archibald streets on Friday and Saturday nights.
The new security measures, including metal detector checkpoints, initially were expected to be in place around April 1.
“We were expecting the documentation from the city staff by sometime in January,” Kimbrough said. “We didn’t get it until the end of April. We have been trying to meet the requirements since then because we knew it would take several months.”
Kansas City spokesperson Chris Hernandez said Sunday that the platting process to return public sidewalks to private ownership is “lengthy.”
“This discussion should be about the need for the State of Missouri to enact reasonable gun control laws so that we would not have to work so hard on local and innovative ways for people to simply enjoy a night out safely,” Hernandez said in an email. “That said, the City appreciates that Westport’s business leaders and property owners are working to complete their part of this extraordinary and cooperative effort between Westport Regional Business League and their Westport Community Improvement District, the City and the Kansas City Police Department in order to better serve public safety in our city’s oldest entertainment district. “
The development of a public safety plan and a Memorandum of Understanding for operating that plan also took time, he said.
“These efforts have been more difficult in Missouri than similar efforts that have been implemented in New Orleans’ French Quarter and Memphis’ Beale Street,” Hernandez said. “We are very close to completing the process and are working diligently with the WRBL towards implementation.”
Kimbrough also said that gathering all of the signatures has been slowed because people have been on vacations, including some who have gone overseas.
Only two more signatures are needed, Kimbrough said.
He said he didn’t know how long it would take to gather the remaining signatures. He anticipated it would be done sometime this summer.
Kimbrough said they wish a speedy recovery for the victims of Sunday’s shooting.
“We would very much like to be in a situation where these kind of things are highly unlikely to happen,” Kimbrough said. “We believe that if the screening had been in place, we probably wouldn’t have these problems last night. Unfortunately, it wasn’t.”