Crime

Two dead, 8 injured days after KC police pleaded for help in stopping violence

Kansas City police once again called for help from the community Sunday morning after a wave of violence overnight left two women dead and eight people injured.

The latest appeal came two days after police pleaded with the community to speak up to help stop the killing, noting that August got off to a particularly violent start with 17 people shot in a period of 48 hours.

Then, from Saturday night to Sunday morning, more violence occurred at five separate locations, including a police shootout and standoff where at least one person shot at police for several minutes near 59th Street and Swope Parkway. At least one person was shot and injured in that incident.

There was no common theme in the rash of violence, except for the inability of people to resolve their disputes without turning to violence, said Sgt. Jake Becchina, a spokesman for the Kansas City Police Department.

“We had a very violent night in Kansas City,” Becchina said “Every incidence of violence is disappointing … It doesn’t have to come to that. Every one of these incidents are avoidable.”

The first shooting was reported shortly after 11:30 p.m. Saturday near East 39th Street and Chelsea Avenue. Arriving officers found a man outside a house with a life-threatening gunshot wound. He was rushed to a hospital, where he remained in critical condition Sunday morning.

About midnight, police responded to the 18th & Vine jazz district after officers working off-duty heard gunfire coming from the area of 18th Street and Highland Avenue. A large crowd had gathered in the area and a disturbance erupted in which shots were fired.

“Upon the gunfire, the crowd dispersed,” Becchina said.

As of Sunday afternoon, police had identified a total of six shooting victims. Earlier in the day, police had said there were four victims.

Some of the victims were found at the scene and others were found later at hospitals. Three were male, three were female, and they ranged in age from their early 20s to their early 40s, police said. All were in serious condition.

There were no suspects in custody Sunday morning, Becchina said.

“There were a lot of people around that area at that time,” Becchina said. “Someone must have seen something.”

Police said they didn’t know where the crowd came from. The Heart of America Hot Dog Festival 2018 was being held until 11 p.m. Saturday at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. However, police do not think the shootings were connected to the event because it had already ended.

About 2:20 a.m. Sunday, officers patrolling near the 1300 block of East 89th Street heard gunfire. As they responded, police received a 911 call from a woman saying she had been shot.

Police found the woman in her car suffering from a gunshot wound. She was declared dead at the scene.

Because the woman was found near an apartment complex, police think that people either in or around the complex saw or heard something that could help solve the homicide.

Police began their second homicide investigation of the night after 3 a.m. near 107th Street and Greenwood Road. Officers responded to the area after a woman was found unresponsive in the street. She was declared dead at the scene. The cause of her death is under investigation, but police suspect foul play.

Shortly before 4:20 a.m. Sunday, police were called to the area of 59th Street and Swope Parkway where a disturbance and gunshots had been reported.

“On arrival, officers were met with gunfire,” Becchina said. Police determined the shots were coming from one house. One officer returned fire.

That turned into a standoff, which police worked for hours to end peacefully. Negotiators and tactical officers arrived to help.

Several people exited the home and talked with detectives. One person had been shot during the initial exchange of gunfire. He was taken to a hospital with injuries that did not appear to be life-threatening. No officers were injured.

The standoff ended about 9:30 a.m.

Damon Daniel, president of the AdHoc Group Against Crime, spent Sunday morning praying for the city and for the families hurt by the violence the night before.

It’s been a horrible week in Kansas City, Daniel said. He compared the situation to a zombie movie.

“We need to issue a state of emergency,” he said. “This level of violence is spreading like a fire.”

Violence is a learned behavior and spreads like a disease, Daniel said. It’s a public health issue.

He and others are working on preventative solutions: youth programs, counseling, healthy relationship classes, jobs. Yet it doesn’t feel like they are moving fast enough, he said.

Daniel urged anyone who is thinking of retaliating with violence to contact the AdHoc Group for help resolving problems peacefully. The group is ready to meet with anyone to offer free assistance.

Police investigations of the shootings and homicides continue, said Becchina, the police spokesman.

But police can’t stop the violence themselves, he said. They need the community’s help.

“We want the community to work together with us to help prevent and solve violence,” Becchina said. “We are out here working tirelessly in the neighborhoods to work through these issues that we have and we need the help of the community as well.”

Robert A. Cronkleton: 816-234-4261, @cronkb
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