Kansas City shootings leave 4 dead, including two teens in broad daylight

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Separate shootings in the Kansas City metropolitan area Tuesday afternoon claimed the lives of four people, including two 15-year-olds forcing an elementary school to lockdown and shocking families at a local park. 

The first incident happened on the Kansas-side of the city when a 15-year-old was shot around noon in the 6600 block of Cleveland Avenue near Hazel Grove Elementary. The teenager was brought to an area hospital but died from his injuries. The suspect fled the scene in a vehicle before officers arrived and have not been apprehended, Kansas City, Kansas Police Department said in a statement

Kansas City, Kansas police are probing the first homicide, while Kansas City, Missouri police are handling investigations into three others that all occurred in broad daylight, KMBC reported. 

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Bullets began flying while a summer school program was in session and school officials placed the campus under lockdown as a precaution until the area was secured, KCTV reported. All students were inside the building at the time of the shooting, police said. Officers assisted with dismissal. 

After a second 15-year-old was killed in a shooting on the Missouri side of the city just two and half hours later, a local pastor pleaded with parents to speak to their children about using guns to solve their differences – saying tragedy is not uncommon in the area. 

The bloodshed occurred near a busy playground when the teenager was shot and killed at Sycamore Park at East 109th Street and Sycamore Avenue on the city’s south side at about 2:30 p.m. Police said families with children were at the park when the gunfire broke out and witnessed the incident unfold. 

Referencing the children, Capt. Leslie Foreman told Kansas City Star, “They don’t know how to process this. They just want to play and feel safe.” 

“Talk to these children and let them know there is a better way to resolve anger,” Bethel Family Worship Center’s Senior Pastor Dennis Lester added in an interview with KCTV. “There is a better way to resolve frustration or beefs that are going on. There’s a better way.”

Lester recalled recently watching the 15-year-old victim killed near the park from his office window playing with his sisters below – the last time he saw him alive. He described knowing the young man to be energetic, enthusiastic, and athletic.

“We have a family that’s hurting. As a matter of fact, I don’t think ‘hurt’ is the appropriate word,” Lester said. “It’s a family that is dealing with trauma and tragedy. Tragedy that is not uncommon in this area.” 

“All we do is we walk alongside the family right now as a gift of presence,” the pastor continued. “It’s not a gift of saying the right words. Doing the right thing. It’s just to make sure that they feel our presence and our love.”

Two more shootings occurred on the Missouri side of the city Tuesday. One was reported around 1:30 p.m. on Independence Avenue near Bales Avenue when a male gunman allegedly approached the victim and opened fire. The victim was transported to a hospital but died shortly after. 

“As always, it’s just tragic,” Foreman remarked to reporters gathered on Independence Avenue, according to the Kansas City Star. “The suspect approached the victim, shot the victim and then fled in an unknown direction,” he said, adding that there have been “way too many” killings lately. 

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And about a half-hour later, two men were shot around 2 p.m. near 52nd Street and Euclid Avenue. Officers who responded to the scene found one man suffering from non-life threatening injuries. He was transported to an area hospital in an ambulance and is expected to survive. The second victim was brought to hospital by private car suffering from critical injuries and died a few hours later. 

In response to the four shootings within a 24-hour period, Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas tweeted, “My thoughts are with all victims. Region-wide, we can’t keep just doing the same thing.”

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Also reacting to the bloodshed, Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker tweeted, “We need strategies to reduce violence rather than just quick response times and capable staff at local ERs.” “God bless the family that received this devastating news today,” she added in another message, sharing the press release about the 15-year-old shot by the elementary school. 

The most recent slayings included, Kansas City has seen 67 homicides so far this year, according to the Kansas City Star. By this time last year, there had been 84. 

2020 marked the deadliest ever for the city.