KCK market shooting was related to domestic disturbance; vigil planned for victims

Update: Kansas City, Kansas, police said Thursday the second victim in the shooting at Edwards Original Corner Market & Deli was still alive, though in critical condition. Police had earlier said both victims, including the owner, were dead. Owner Dennis Edwards was killed and a woman shot at the store was still alive. The new information is posted here.

A vigil for two people who were shot at a local market in Kansas City, Kansas, will be held Thursday evening as families and neighbors of the victims mourn.

On Wednesday Dennis Edwards, owner of Edwards Original Corner Market & Deli, was killed in a shooting at the market. A woman shot at the store was in critical condition Thursday, after police had initially reported she was dead.

A vigil for the two victims was planned for 7:30 p.m.

A man who exchanged gunfire with police and barricaded himself in the market was eventually taken into custody. He was shot at least once by a police officer, the only officer who fired, and was in stable condition Thursday morning, said Officer Jonathon Westbrook, a spokesman for the Kansas City, Kansas Police Department.

The suspect has not yet been identified and no charges have been announced.

The incident was related to a domestic disturbance between the suspect and the female victim, Westbrook said. Investigators were still trying to determine what exactly occurred.

Edwards’ parents opened the market at 81 North Mill Street in 1959. The business closed in 1986, but Edwards reopened it about a decade ago.

Dale Colbert, now 60, was 2 when he met Edwards, who was 5 at the time. They used to ride bicycles up and down the street on a nearby hill, back when it was made of red bricks. Edwards could go up and down on one wheel, he remembered.

Colbert recalled how the Edwards family gave food to children who needed it and water to anyone who walked in thirsty on a hot day. The neighborhood was poorer back then, so the Edwards family played a crucial role in helping local children, he said.

The family would also cut the grass in a nearby lot, which appeared overgrown Tuesday, and set up a popcorn machine and a screen to play scary movies for anyone who would show up. And plenty did, he said.

“They were really, really good people,” Colbert said. “I really can’t say enough about them.”

Edwards’ father nicknamed Colbert “Toughy.” He used to give him free candy when he chased someone who stole something from the store, he said with a hearty laugh Thursday.

“He’d say, ‘Go get em, Toughy,’” Colbert said.

When Colbert found out about the killing, he started crying. “I just hit the floor,” he said.

Kevin Helliker, a former Wall Street Journal editor from Kansas City, Kansas, said he had known Edwards since they were kids.

“He was the most consistently upbeat person I’ve ever known,” Helliker said. He described the store as a beacon for residents in the neighborhood.

It was a gathering spot where people had access to groceries and knew the owner by name — a rarity in today’s world, Helliker said.

Edwards was known for his kindness, keeping the neighborhood fed and making deliveries in the area.

“There was not a kid who left here hungry,” said his niece Christina Smith.

Hundreds of people have called Edwards’ brother David to offer their condolences.

For David Edwards, the market was more than the neighborhood landmark described by people who bought food there. It was where he was raised, where his father died upstairs and next door to where his other brother, a Vietnam veteran, also died.

And now Dennis Edwards, who has a daughter and two grandchildren.

“It’s painful,” he said. “And I can’t believe it’s real.”

Dennis Edwards had just gotten his license to sell liquor at the market, his brother said. He wanted to serve people pizza and beer, which became his “proudest joy” for the last two weeks.

He was expecting a beer delivery Friday, something his brother had to cancel. He wanted to deliver so people wouldn’t get DUIs, David Edwards said.

“It’s all he talked about,” he said.

He remembered how often his brother would call to tell him who came in the store that day.

“He loved his business.”

A cleanup crew arrived Thursday afternoon to scrub away blood left at the crime scene.

As people showed up to hug the family or drop off flowers, Smith said she wanted to see justice after a fair trial for the alleged shooter.

“I don’t want this man to walk free,” she said.

The business is currently closed and plans are being made to donate the market’s food to a local organization that supports homeless people. David Edwards said the market will be closed permanently.

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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.
Katie Moore covers crime and justice issues for The Star. She is a University of Kansas graduate and was previously a reporter in her hometown of Topeka, Kansas.