If she hadn’t still been bothered by a lingering stomach virus, Vervina Grant would have followed her 17-year-old son to the door.
“Mom, I’m going out,” he told her. Someone was out front of their Kansas City home Sunday night to meet her youngest son, Arkests Grant. She put on the house lights, but then she laid back down.
“That’s when I heard the shots.”
She ran out of her house on Wabash Avenue, the same house where Arkests was born, where he had lived his whole life. He lay there at the foot of her car in the driveway, dying. He had been shot, and his attacker was running away.
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Soon, the shooter would be the subject of a police search that continued into Monday, with investigators asking for the public’s help in identifying and locating a suspect.
Immediately after the shooting, Grant saw in her driveway, parked right behind her own car, the maroon 2000 Chevy Suburban that she bought last summer with the promise it would be her son’s once he graduated from DeLaSalle Education Center’s high school this spring.
“A good incentive,” she called it. “A push to graduate.” And he was making it, she said. “Doing the best he could.”
She saw her son lying on the ground and she saw another teenager running away down the block. Family and neighbors who’d heard the gunshots were stepping out under the street lights.
“Catch him!” she yelled. But the shooter was gone.
“Everyone’s familiar with it,” his 20-year-old brother, William Dudley, said of Kansas City’s violence. “But not personally. Not this close.”
Police swarmed the neighborhood Sunday night and sent up a helicopter in search of a suspect, but had not reported any arrests Monday.
Arkests’ mother was meeting with a funeral director in her living room the day after the shooting. Arkests’ aunt and his cousin were helping sort through nearly a dozen albums of family photos.
Framed photos encircled the room on nearly every surface and shelf — Arkests’ smiling face scattered among them, marking the childhood come and gone. His name was his grandfather’s name.
“He was quiet and peaceful,” his aunt, Sherry Anderson said. Maybe he was too quiet, too trusting, she said. She held a picture of him in a green basketball uniform, with large glasses from a few years ago. “Just a nerd,” she said, affectionately.
“I can’t understand,” she said, cutting off her thought and waving her hand to the door and to whatever happened out there the night before.
The police investigation is ongoing and family members in the home said they don’t know who would have shot Arkests or why. Witnesses told police the shooter and the victim seemed to be arguing when the shots fired.
Most of Arkests’ associations were made in social media and video gaming, or playing basketball, his family said.
Call of Duty on his PlayStation, the 2K19 NBA basketball video game — these were his pastimes, his brothers said.
“He was always home,” his brother, Kevin Hardin, said.
He was a strong basketball player even though a heart condition required him to have a pacemaker. He played for a traveling team, the Kansas City Kings.
He liked to work, Anderson said. He would assist her in her job of fixing up rented houses in between tenants.
“He was there to help without saying a word.”
He was going to turn 18 in March. A relative worked at the IRS and he was expecting he could get a job in the mail room. He’d have his Chevy Suburban, too. He had been urging his mother to make sure it was fixed and properly tagged, ready for him when he’d earned it.
In the meantime, he liked to go out and sit in it and listen to the engine, Vervina Grant said.
“He ran the battery down.”
She looked through the pictures, feeling like he was “still here with me,” wishing he could help pick out his favorites.
His brother, William Dudley, stood out in the front yard, looking at the Suburban.
“It’s sitting there waiting on him,” he said.
“You can talk forever about the violence in Kansas City, but nothing can be done about that,” he said. “He was not a harmful kid. This violence in Kansas City has to stop.”
Police are still seeking a suspect. They described the man who fled the scene Sunday night as a black male in his late teens, with his hair in short, spiked braids, wearing a blue hoodie, blue jeans and white tennis shoes.
Anyone with information is asked to call the TIPS Hotline at 816-474-8477.