Gunfire broke out at an East Kansas City grocery store Monday afternoon, shutting down a two-month-old shopping center that city officials with the hope of revitalizing the area spent $17 million to build.
Police said two people — an adult male and a juvenile female — are in stable condition at a local hospital after a shooting that occured shortly after 5 p.m. at the Sun Fresh Market in the Linwood Shopping Center at 31st Street and Wabash Avenue.
“We believe they are the intended target, at least one of them was,” said police spokesman Lionel Colón, who later clarified that he was referring to the adult male victim. “This was not a random shooting.”
Colón said police do not believe the shooter intended to harm the female victim, who is a teenager. He could not confirm whether one or both of the victims were employees of the store.
Colón also said police had not confirmed reports from some witnesses who said the adult male victim had returned fire.
The Sun Fresh Market had its grand opening in June 2018 and was hailed as a boon to Prospect Avenue revitalization efforts.
The city had invested about $17 million in public funds to purchase land, build a grocery store and rebuild the parking lot for the shopping center. It is run by grocery operators John and Pam Lipari and employs many from the surrounding neighborhood.
“Every community deserves a full-service grocery store,” City Councilman Jermaine Reed said at the time of its opening. “The new Lipari Brothers Sun Fresh Market and redeveloped Linwood Shopping Center provides an opportunity to bring new and/or improved retail services for area residents.”
On Monday evening, Reed issued a statement on Twitter in which he called for “efforts to aggessively ensure safety and security of all residents.”
“Heart is heavy concerning the deeply disturbing act of gun violence at the Linwood Shopping Center,” he said. “Kansas City Police Department has confirmed this appears to be an isolated incident; not a random shooting, but a targeted one. Victims are in stable condition. My thoughts and prays for all involved.”
He tweeted another message.
“Violence is not acceptable in any form; particularly in a grocery store,” he said. “People should be able to shop without the fear of violence.”
City Councilman Quinton Lucas sent out a message about the event.
“Upset by reports of shooting at Linwood Shopping Ctr. Thinking first about any victims,” City Councilman Quinton Lucas said. “Thinking next about our community. We’ve got to change this and it is a problem that no new project or new initiative can fix unless we make deep structural changes in our community.”
Police did not have further suspect information Monday. But they did confirm the store had surveillance cameras.
“Saddened to hear of incident of pure stupidity today at the SunFresh grocery store at Linwood & Prospect,” City Manager Troy Schulte tweeted. “Take solace in fact that this senseless act took place within view of one of best camera systems in the City. Just a matter of time before the idiot is caught.”
Those with information about the incident are encouraged to call 816-474-TIPS.