With candles and tears, family and friends mourn 4 men killed in KCK bar shooting

Celeste Trevino didn’t want to go to Tequila KC on Saturday night, but her sister dragged her out.

Everardo Meza was there, so she stayed. He introduced Trevino to some of his family members at the bar frequented by locals on Central Avenue in Kansas City, Kansas. The two weren’t dating, but she liked him and he liked her. He was so sweet, she recalled.

About 40 people stayed until the last call for drinks. Everyone was having a good time, Trevino said.

Then two armed men walked in.

About 20 hours later, Trevino was among more than 80 people to gather Sunday night to mourn the four dead — one of them Meza — and five wounded in a horrific mass shooting.

Police have not released the victims’ names, but said two were in their 20s, one in his mid 30s and another in his late 50s.

Dozens of candles and several pictures of victims lined the bar’s back gate. One mourner appeared to hyperventilate. Another held a boy, crying into his hooded sweatshirt.

With the light of the candles glowing off her face, a woman kneeled in front of the memorial and placed two candles down. She put her face in her hands and belted out cries, repeatedly shouting: “¿Por qué? ¿Por qué?”

The five injured were rushed to hospitals with unspecified injuries. Two were released by mid-morning Sunday. Those who remained were in stable condition, police said.

The two shooters remained at large Sunday night.

Trevino said she saw one of them enter the bar and pull his gun. Her aunt shouted to her: “Just get down! Stay down!”

Meza pushed Trevino out of the way of the gunman, she said. She credited him with saving her life.

On the floor, she heard “shots and shots and shots and shots,” she remembered through tears.

As she crawled on the floor, Trevino looked back and saw a man next to her, dead and covered in blood. Then she discovered the body of her 29-year-old brother-in-law, Alfredo Calderon. He left behind a 6-year-old son and a 4-year-old daughter.

She ran outside and called her mother.

“Alfredo’s shot,” she told her. “Alfredo’s shot.”

Every time she’s closed her eyes since, Trevino thinks about the crime scene, she said.

“I don’t feel like I’m ever going to be the same after seeing something like that,” Trevino said.

When 51-year-old Tina Stapleton, a regular at the bar, saw the pictures of the suspects police released, she was shocked. She left the bar about an hour before the shooting. Something told her to go home, she said.

“It blows my mind,” she said. “I just couldn’t believe it.”

Brenda Loya, who owned the business when it was called the Blue Rose, learned of the shooting from a friend who was at the bar.

“It’s just not right,” she said.

Detectives said they have yet to determine a specific motive. But witnesses described one of the suspects as getting involved in a fight outside the bar before returning armed later in the early morning with an accomplice.

As for Trevino, she said she doesn’t want to go back, ever.

“I don’t understand how someone could just do that,” Trevino said. “It was senseless.”

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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.