Crime

Workers’ champion, guardian of children slain in KC’s rash of shootings

It’s hard to imagine “Miss Shae” so alone in that last moment, her friends said.

Witnesses tell them Shanterria Edwards had been chased. That she was shot in the back as she tried to run to her car in the early morning hours Aug. 5 in south Kansas City. She was 26.

It’s hard, 18-year-old Ericka Hurst said, not being able to help the woman who was like a big sister to her and her younger siblings growing up — and an inspiration in recent years as a leader in Kansas City’s workers’ rights movement.

She was so reliable that Hurst’s mother, when facing trouble in her life, pegged the then-15-year-old Edwards to be her children’s standby guardian.

Edwards sheltered them in her grandmother’s house, got them in the tub, made sure they were fed, got them all to school in the morning.

“She didn’t have to care for us like that,” Hurst said. “But she did. She did.”

It’s hard, longtime friend Jasmine Richmond said, that no one could be Edwards’ champion in the end the way she rallied for others.

Edwards was a leader in the Stand Up KC community fight for worker rights and the campaign for a $15 minimum wage.

Richmond said Edwards got her to join the Stand Up crowd for one of their rallies — loading into buses and vans before dawn and descending among hundreds of others with songs and banners on St. Louis in 2017.

It was Richmond’s first rally, and Edwards was the always-smiling fighter embracing crowds.

“She was feisty,” Richmond said. “She had a bite.”

Family and friends gathering this week cannot imagine anyone wanting to hurt her, her mother, Monica Ray, said.

Edwards “was the auntie” to so many children among extended family and friends, Ray said. And she always rose to leader roles in the service industry jobs she worked with spirited energy.

“We have no information,” Ray said. “No idea who could possibly do this to her.”

They know that Edwards made it to her car after she was shot on East 89th Street east of Troost Avenue. Police say Edwards called 911 herself. But when help arrived it was too late.

Edwards was Kansas City’s 73rd homicide this year. In a terrifying spate of violence, she was the fifth of six people killed by gunfire in the first five days of August.

“It’s really scary,” Richmond said. “The stories of her running away, someone chasing her, and no help. No one around her.”

Her killing remains under investigation. Police have not released any suspect information.

“It is with heavy hearts,” read a tweet posted by Stand Up KC, “that we announce the loss of another #FightFor15 and #StandUpKC leader.”

The group set up a GoFundMe web page to help pay for her funeral.

Edwards had medical bills that hurt and hardships like many of the people in the movement, said Bridget Hughes, a leader with Stand Up KC and a co-worker at times at Burger King. .

But through it all you’d see her at the front of the march, Hughes said. She always kept everyone powerfully arrayed toward “the big picture” of a better world tomorrow, Hughes said.

From the Chicago-area headquarters of McDonald’s to the steps of the capitol in Jefferson City, to Black Lives Matter rallies in St. Louis, Edwards was there.

In Hughes’ darkest days, when her own economic struggles put the custody of her children in jeopardy, “Shae was the light” that carried Hughes through.

Edwards’ heart for workers rose with her own struggle for economic independence, Ray, her mother, said.

She earned a degree to be an esthetician from Heritage College, and she had worked many jobs in restaurants and retail along the way, Ray said.

“She wanted to do whatever she could to be able to live in her own place,” she said.

Hurst said Edwards helped her find her footing as an independent woman. Edwards was thrilled to see how far Hurst had come when they met again less than two weeks before Edwards died. It was a joyous reunion.

Hurst — that little girl “Miss Shae” had sheltered, — got out of her own car, a dark gray Chevy Malibu, bearing the news that she was a line leader, directing a team of workers at her job at a warehouse.

“She was so excited to see me,” Hurst said. “She said, ‘You’re really grown up now!’ She told me how proud she was of me.”

And Hurst filled up with love and gratitude for Edwards, who, she said, taught her how to hold herself up, how to carry herself with pride, “and how to smile, always.”

As her family plans her funeral, Edwards’ friends and family plea for justice.

“I have faith in God they’re going to catch who did this,” Hurst said.

“She was a good person all around,” Ray said. “Someone needs to pay for what happened to her.”

Anyone with information can call the TIPS Hotline at 816-474-TIPS (8477).

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