‘Senseless’: Victim killed in shooting at Raytown park was teenage girl, family says

When Chester Hill got the call early Saturday morning, he hoped it wasn’t true.

His 17-year-old granddaughter, whom he and his wife raised since she was 2, had been shot in Raytown, Hill was told. Emergency personnel tried for 11 minutes to resuscitate her.

But when he saw the chaplain, he knew Rayauna was gone.

“It’s a senseless murder,” Chester Hill said. “She died right there in the damn middle of the street.”

Officers were called to the shooting at 12:24 a.m. Saturday when a house was struck near Sarah Colman-Livengood Park on Lane Avenue. Moments later, a caller told police someone had been shot in the park itself.

When officers found the victim, people were rendering her first aid, police Capt. Dyon Harper said in a statement Saturday morning.

Two people ran away after the shooting. They had not been found as of early Saturday morning, according to police.

Police have not publicly identified the victim they described as a “young woman.” But those who knew Rayauna Hill expressed shock and grief as they shared photographs and memories of her in dozens of Facebook posts.

Chester Hill, 62, said his granddaughter was not the intended target. She was at the park, dancing and having fun, when gunfire erupted over a financial dispute, Hill said he was told.

Bullets struck the park’s office building and at least three houses in the area, police said.

Rayauna would have been a senior in the fall at Raytown South High School, where she ran track and field, her grandfather said. It’s a sport she participated in since she was 5, he said.

Chester Hill referred to Rayauna as his daughter, his “baby girl.” Her smile made him melt, he said.

“Her smile just lit up the sky to me,” he said. “We did everything together.”

A former teacher, Chester Hill said the city’s young people need more places, such as libraries, gyms and community centers, to be able to go to. He called on politicians to create more educational opportunities in often neglected parts of the metro region, something he said could reduce the number of young people killed in shootings.

“You can rally 80,000 people at a football game,” Hill said, referring to the more than 76,000 fans who can fit in Arrowhead Stadium to cheer on the Chiefs. “How come you can’t rally 80,000 people to go to City Hall and say, ‘We need to fix education.’”

He continued: “Our youth need help. We need to stop this.”

Rayauna Hill was the third teenager fatally shot in Raytown since October, according to data kept by The Star.

Makayla Brooks, 17, was found dead Oct. 5 from gunshot wounds inside a home in the 5500 Block of Blue Ridge Boulevard. A 17-year-old girl and 19-year-old man, both from Kansas City, were charged with first-degree murder.

Then in March, 19-year-old Riley McCracken was gunned down outside a Raytown pool hall. Four teenagers, including the two charged in Brooks’ death, were charged in the killing.

In Kansas City, people 24 years of age or younger have accounted for 38% of the city’s homicide victims this year, according to police data. Four of the 59 people killed so far this year were 16 or younger while 18 were ages 17 to 24.

Raytown police asked anyone with information about the recent killing to call the TIPS Hotline at 816-474-8477.

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Luke Nozicka covers local crime and federal courts for The Kansas City Star. Before joining The Star, he covered breaking news and courts for The Des Moines Register.