Dionte Greene was many things.
Son. Brother. Father to twin daughters. Long-standing member of Kansas City’s Marching Cobras.
He was also gay.
Now many in Kansas City’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, or LGBT, community fear that’s why someone killed him.
“It needs to be addressed,” said Starzette Palmer, a friend of Greene and fellow member of the African-American LGBT group Our Thentic.
The crime remains unsolved.
And although Kansas City police say they’re looking at the possibility that Greene was targeted because he was gay, they say it’s still too early in the investigation to know what might have motivated someone to gun down the 22-year-old man on the morning of Halloween.
Still, the reaction of others — particularly young gay black men in Kansas City — speaks to their particular fear of being targeted for violence simply because of who they are.
Greene’s body was found in his running car in the 6900 block of Bellefontaine Avenue in south-central Kansas City, miles from his home.
Friends say Greene had been in online contact with someone about meeting for a sexual encounter before that morning.
“We felt that had something to do with his death,” Palmer said.
And the possibility that Greene was killed because of his sexual orientation has others in the area’s gay community concerned that the killer could target other gays.
“I don’t want to bury anybody else,” Palmer said.
Randall Jenson of the Kansas City Anti-Violence Project, a group that works with and advocates for members of the LGBT community who are victims of violence, said many people are concerned that the killing of Greene will be perceived as “just another black-on-black” crime.
Jenson said there is a strong belief in the community that Greene was the victim of a hate-motivated crime.
“People felt he was lured into a situation as a way to hurt him,” Jenson said.
The case has already garnered national and even international coverage. His story was the subject of a recent article in the British publication The Guardian. That story speculated on a possible hate crime motive.
Kansas City police say they are actively investigating the killing and remain open to any possibility.
But determining a motive is usually contingent on identifying a suspect first, homicide Sgt. Barb Eckert said.
“Until we have a suspect,” Eckert said, “the motive is in limbo.”
Coshelle Greene said she has heard the same things about the possibility that her son was the victim of a hate crime. She said she knows of no other reason than a hate crime that might explain why someone would kill her oldest child.
She said he was not involved in drugs or other illegal activities. She said she worked hard to ensure that he never veered into the street life and gangs.
“That glove just didn’t fit on him,” she said.
After graduating from Grandview High School, he studied culinary arts. At the time of his death, he was working at CVS Caremark in Lee’s Summit, she said.
“He had no enemies,” his mother said. “He was mild and laid-back.”
Palmer said Greene was active and involved in the black LGBT community in Kansas City.
“He was … a pillar in our community,” Palmer said.
After meeting with Greene’s family and friends, Jenson contacted Officer Rebecca Caster, the Kansas City Police Department’s liaison with the LGBT community.
They set up a meeting with the detectives who are now investigating Greene’s killing to express their concerns and share information.
His family and friends said they were frustrated that police did not want to share specifics of the investigation with them.
But Caster said that in any investigation, police have to be careful about publicizing too much information in order to protect the integrity of the case.
Police say there are often facts that only the killer knows. Making them public could dilute the value of any statement a suspect might give later.
Caster said that she understands people may be frustrated but that police have the same goal as Greene’s family and friends.
“We want to know who killed him, and we want to see them go to jail for as much time as they can possibly get,” she said.
Coshelle Greene is doing everything she can do to ensure that. She contacts the detectives several times a week and has been passing out fliers to publicize her son’s case and ask for tips to help find his killer.
She doesn’t want her son’s case to be forgotten.
“I need to stay on it,” she said.
Caster said that no matter a victim’s race or sexual orientation, detectives work the case the same way.
“I know they are investigating everything thoroughly,” she said.
Caster said she was invited to attend a memorial event for Greene and was impressed by the number of people who were there to remember him.
“This kid had a lot of people who truly loved him,” Caster said.
Anyone with information that could help solve his killing is asked to call the TIPS Hotline at 816-474-8477 or the Ad Hoc Group Against Crime at 816-753-1111.