Gunfire outside a church on a Saturday afternoon interrupted the funeral of a teenage homicide victim, putting grieving family and friends in what they described as a chaotic and upsetting situation.
They were gathered at Graceway church in Raytown to remember An’Janique Wright, the 15-year-old who was gunned down earlier this month outside the Central Academy of Excellence during a basketball game.
No one was hit by gunfire Saturday, but police said it happened before 3:30 p.m. while several people, including officers, were attending the memorial service at the church in the 5400 block of Blue Ridge Cutoff.
Elaine Fleming, An’Janique’s grandmother, said someone ran inside and said there was a shooting and ordered “everybody get down.” Many people ran, she said.
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Officer Darin Snapp, a Kansas City police spokesman, later said officers saw someone firing shots from the window of a car driving on 55th Street. Police pursued the vehicle and caught up with it at Blue Parkway and Cleveland Avenue where three people were taken into custody.
Police said they recovered three firearms from the suspects.
With the funeral service cut short, Fleming stood outside the church.
“There’s nothing more I can say but we got to do better,” she said.
Joey Thomas, a family friend, described a confusing scene. He didn’t hear gunshots, but said he “noticed a bunch of people start to run toward the exit doors,” some climbing over others. He said he was sitting near the front during the service.
“I turned around to look to see what was going on. I didn’t ever see anybody with a gun or anything, but once one person runs, you just kind of feel the energy. Everybody took off running,” Thomas said.
In a statement posted on its Facebook page, Graceway church representatives said there was “a disruption outside of the building” during the funeral and police were called, but they did not go into specifics. The church said it was cooperating with police in the investigation.
The incident prompted the church to cancel a middle school lock-in event it was supposed to host Saturday night.
Meanwhile, Raytown and Kansas City officers remained at the scene, checking around the area late Saturday afternoon.
“I’m really angry — not at anyone, but more so about the situation, more so about the event that took place,” Thomas said. “For her (Fleming) to have to be at her grandchild’s funeral and see this and witness this and didn’t even get a chance to go to the burial, it’s bothering me.”