‘Not another one’: More than a dozen teens killed this year in the Kansas City area

Damon Daniel paused for a moment and prayed last Tuesday after he read an email alerting him that another teenager had been shot and killed in Kansas City.

“I thought, ‘not another one, not another one,’” Daniel, president of the Ad Hoc Group Against Crime, said Monday. “I always pray for the families of those who have lost loved ones and I pray for the safety of those who are responding.”

The email said an 18-year-old had been gunned down, just hours before another teen the same age was found shot.

Daniel regularly receives such notifications from Kansas City police in his capacity as leader of a community anti-violence group. This summer, the messages have taken on a grim drumbeat. Many of the victims have been very young, including some that should have been returning to school this fall.

This year, more than a dozen teens in the Kansas City area have been killed by gunfire. About 50 have been shot and survived. If the patterns of past seasons holds up, gun violence among teens is expected to worsen throughout the summer. Many of the slayings remain unsolved.

A pair of 17-year-olds were shot Sunday night in Kansas City, Kansas. Police were called about 7:30 p.m. to North 71st Street and Haskell Ave.

The teens were taken to a hospital in private vehicles. One was taken into surgery while the other’s injuries did not appear to be life-threatening, police said.

Of the 74 homicides reported in Kansas City this year, four of those victims were 16 or younger. There have been 23 homicide victims in Kansas City between the ages of 17 and 24, according to the Kansas City Police Department.

Most of the killing is done with guns.

Mayor-elect Quinton Lucas said there are state and federal laws that prohibit the possession of firearms among teens under 18 and the City Council should reaffirm those laws through ordinances.

However, Lucas said he is troubled that some teens seem not to value life. Continued and additional investments are needed for programs such as Teens in Transition, juvenile counseling and restorative justice programs that currently operate in several Kansas City high schools, he said.

“It is a significant problem and one that seems to be growing and more challenging every day,” Lucas said.

Last Monday, Charles Pelton, 18, was gunned down at a basketball court outside a church in south Kansas City. Police responded just before 11 p.m. to reports of shots fired in the 1400 block of East 103rd Street.

They found the crime scene behind the Evangel Church.

Pelton showed up at a hospital with critical injuries, police said. He died shortly after.

Daniel, the anti-violence leader, heard about it Tuesday.

“I thought this is another life that has been taken senselessly,” Daniel said.

“It is difficult to think of how we could have prevented such random acts of violence,” he said. “It is almost like you need super powers to detect when these things are occurring and to prevent them. How can we get at the root of this problem?”

Hours after Pelton was shot, Kansas City police found Corey Robinson, 18, lying in the grass the south end of Brookside Park at 57th and McGee streets. Robinson had been fatally shot. Witnesses said they heard a disturbance prior to the shooting.

Earlier in the summer, Breana Robison, 19, was found fatally shot on June 28 after officers were called about 7:30 p.m. to the 600 block of Blue Ridge Boulevard on a report of “a party armed.”

Four days earlier, Damian Norfleet, 14, was killed by gunfire June 24 as he swept the floor in his home in Grandview.

In that case, police responded to the shooting about 11:30 p.m. in the 13100 block of Ashland Avenue, which is located just west of Raytown and High Grove roads in Grandview. Officers found the teen’s body inside the home.

Rayauna M. Hill, 17, was slain on June 15 in Raytown. Police found Hill after responding to a shooting at Sarah Colman-Livengood Park on Lane Avenue at 12:24 a.m. She was pronounced dead shortly after she was taken to a hospital.

Earlier shootings

Some of the youngest shooting victims were killed before the summer started.

On May 28, Jaris R. Wilson, 16, was killed and another teen was seriously injured in a shooting that happened about 4:40 p.m. in the 11800 block of East 60th Street.

On May 14 a 14-year-old boy died after he was accidentally shot about 3:30 a.m. at the Vivion Oaks Apartments at 50th Court and North Oak Trafficway. It happened when two teens were playing with a firearm while other family members were sleeping.

An’Janique Wright was 15 when she was shot and killed Feb. 12 while leaving a basketball game at Central Academy of Excellence at 3221 Indiana Avenue.

Earlier in the year, two teenagers were killed in Johnson County.

Ben Workman-Greco, 17, was shot and killed Jan. 23 in his apartment in the 8000 block of Farley Street. A juvenile and two adults were charged in the case.

In Olathe on March 29, another 17-year-old was killed. Rowan Padgett was shot in the 12300 block of South Mullen Court. Three teenagers are facing charges.

Daniel, president of the Ad Hoc Group Against Crime, said much of the violence involving teens have been spurred by social media, where online insults can end in violence. Far too many teens have easy access to firearms, Daniel said.

Teens ages 13 to 19 accounted for 48 of the shooting victims who survived this year in Kansas City. Twenty-five of those have been shot since May, according to police data.

Among the shooting victims include a 2-year-old and two 8-year-olds.

At the end of 2018, 98 teens between 13 and 19 were victims of nonfatal shootings, police said.

Many of the teen shootings could have been prevented if those involved had better access to resources that would help them find jobs, resolve interpersonal conflicts as well as receive drug and alcohol prevention and treatment

“There is not a simple solution to this,” Daniel said.

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Glenn E. Rice covers crime, courts and breaking news for The Kansas City Star, where he’s worked since 1988. Rice is a Kansas City native and a graduate of the University of Central Missouri.