gun violence

Courtesy of Kristen Oehlert

Alice Snodgrass was worried about her friend Nicki Alexopoulos. Worried about a threat from within her family.

“When she went silent, when she wasn't on Facebook, that was an indication that something was wrong,” Snodgrass says.

So, she drove 200 miles to check on Nicki. But as the two of them were catching up in the living room of Nicki’s home in Kansas City’s Brookside neighborhood, the “threat” showed up at the door. Nicki’s 38-year-old son, Patrick Alexopoulos, barged in with a 9 mm gun and a demand.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Despite a drop in murder rates at the national level, homicides in Kansas City are on the rise.

Courtesy the Clark family

Pretty Pennington was killed by a girl fight, a handgun and an AK-47.

She’d been to a friend's wedding that Saturday night, Nov. 12, 2016 — a fun party where she danced all night, picking up her phone only to post pictures to Snapchat. Her mother, Marvella Clark, was sitting at a table and noticed Pennington’s cell phone buzzed constantly.  

Courtesy of Lee's Summit Police Department

Lee's Summit School Resource Officer Thomas Orr Jr. was shot and killed Sunday night at Californos in Westport.

Police say Orr was an innocent bystander to an argument that broke out between two men on the restaurant's back patio.

The 30-year-old officer had been with the Lee's Summit Police Department for two years. He had just started a new job at Campbell Middle School last week, a district spokeswoman confirmed.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

It was a clear night in late July 2016 on the 3600 block of Askew Avenue on Kansas City’s East Side.

But inside one home, a fight was brewing. It was just after midnight, the police report would later say, when Lon’Nasha Tate opened the freezer to find that the ice cream she had saved for her kids was half empty.

Jackson County Combat / Twitter

Early Sunday morning, Kansas City Police responded to a call after a two-year old child reportedly shot himself by accident in south Kansas City. The boy was later pronounced dead at the hospital.

According to data from the #NotAnAccident Index, it was the seventh such accidental shooting death of a child in the Kansas City area in the past two years. 

In response, local child advocacy and gun safety groups are speaking out about preventative measures.  

Tex Texin / Wikimedia Commons

Kansas City's ongoing violent crime problem is no secret. Today, we hear from two former presidents of the Board of Police Commissioners, Jeff Simon and Pat McInerney, who offer their thoughts on solving the city's preeminent hurdle. Then, we examine how a wall between the U.S. and Mexico would (or would not) affect existing tensions over immigration, crime, trade and more.

Paul Sableman / Flickr - CC

Violent crime rates in Kansas City are on the rise, yet again. Today, we hear the first installment of KCUR's "The Argument," a reporting series that looks beyond the worrying statistics, and into the arguments that escalate to homicide. Then, we discuss how an 1878 eclipse, similar to the one that will cross the country on August 21, catalyzed scientific thought in America.

Tony Webster / Wikimedia Commons

Updated, 2:22 p.m. Tuesday: Kansas City is among 12 cities that will receive "significant assistance" from the Department of Justice to fight violent crime. 

United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions made the announcement Tuesday morning at a national summit on violent crime reduction efforts. 

The cities will become part of the new National Public Safety Partnership, officially launched Tuesday.

Photo illustration by Andrea Tudhope

The quiet neighborhood in east Kansas City, Missouri, was just coming to life that Friday morning, May 20, 2016, when Daniel Wilson pulled up in his old white Monte Carlo, witnesses say, carrying a grudge and a gun.

Tony Webster / Wikimedia Commons

Kansas City has tried just about everything to reduce crime — more cops, more money and even a mayor-appointed task force — but the rate of violent crime continues to climb. So where do we go from here? Today, we hear from community leaders and listeners about how Kansas City should approach this growing issue.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

"This is my momma's house. I ain't movin.'"

This shout rang out amidst a press conference on the 4300 block of Forest Avenue Wednesday afternoon, right after Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker delivered a warning letter.

The warning comes after Baker's office announced they found evidence of 210 shots fired around the property since February 2016. 

"This is not a shooting range, this is a neighborhood," Baker said, after relocating a few houses away from the house in question, as residents aired their concerns about protecting their property.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Jean Peters Baker's work doesn't end when she steps out of the Jackson County Courthouse. In fact, the county's top prosecutor recently hosted a cleanup event on the 2300 block of Denver Avenue in Kansas City to reduce blight and fight crime. She speaks about that, and about the work of Mayor Sly James' Citizens Task Force on Violence. Then, the only business school professor ever named a MacArthur Fellow tells us why he thinks fixing income inequality in America requires increasing the number of college graduates.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

For Mayor Sly James, this has been a particularly busy time. On Tuesday evening, he gave his State of the City Address, which we discuss today, along with a bond proposal James says will trim, but not eliminate, a backlog of public works projects in Kansas City, Missouri.

C.J. Janovy / KCUR 89.3

At first glance, the painter Ada Koch and the poet Glenn North might seem an unlikely pair. But what has emerged from their collaboration — Love, Loss & Violence: A Visual Dialogue on War, an art exhibit opening this weekend at the Kansas City Artists Coalition and an accompanying book — illustrates with painful honesty that certain fears are universal.

Shawn Semmler / Flickr - CC

Increasing violence in Kansas City has gotten a lot of attention, leading one church to sponsor a forum where community members can workshop ideas to solve the problem. We'll preview that discussion. Then, we find out how the presence of a Fortune 500 company in Ferguson, Missouri, illustrates a history of fiscal imbalance and racial capitalism.

Eva Wilson / Leawood Baptist Church

Dec. 21 was the winter's solstice, the longest night of 2016. That night, roughly 200 people showed up for a vigil at the Leawood Baptist Church to honor nearly 200 people who lost their lives in homicides in the Kansas City metropolitan area in 2016.

For weeks, the church's front lawn was a sea of white crosses: 193, each with a name, each representing a life lost.

In Kansas City, Missouri in 2016, there were 127 homicides, marking the highest number in nearly a decade. 

Eva Wilson / Leawood Baptist Church

Kansas City recently hit a milestone: 2016 saw the highest number of homicides in the past 10 years. What's going on in the metro? A look at what each death means for KC and its children.

Guests:

TEDxKC

For the second year running, Up To Date has invited presenters from TEDxKC to fill us in on their work.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

A shootout in Midland True Value's parking lot at Gregory Boulevard and Prospect Avenue that started after 2 a.m. Sunday ended in seven gun-related injuries and three vehicle accidents. One victim is in critical condition.

Minutes after receiving a call around 2:19 a.m., police arrived at the scene where suspects were engaged in active shooting. According to the Kansas City Police Department, one officer, fearing for safety, fired shots. No officers were injured.

Creative Commons-Wikimedia

This story was updated at 3:15 p.m. Tuesday.

In a case likely to have nationwide repercussions, a Missouri gun dealer has agreed to pay $2.2 million to settle a lawsuit alleging it negligently sold a gun to a schizophrenic woman who used it to kill her father.

“The $2.2 million settlement hits them in the pocketbook and makes clear to gun dealers across the country and their insurance companies that they need to act responsibly,” said Jonathan Lowy, director of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence’s Legal Action Project.

Cody Newill / KCUR 89.3

U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt may currently be Missouri's freshman senator but he has worked in the Capitol since 1997. Early in his career, he served as chief deputy whip for the GOP, eventually becoming House majority leader in 2005 and 2006.

For Cuban exile Carlos Eire, coming to the U.S. as a boy was a gift but it took him a few years to realize the freedoms it afforded him. Then, a new book from journalist Gary Younge brings statistics to bear by chronicling the stories of 10 young people who were killed by gunfire on November 23, 2013.

Advocates for tighter gun laws might feel a little like believers in a lost cause, but researcher Daniel Webster holds out hope. The director of the Center for Gun Policy and Research says some proposals do have support from a majority of gun owners.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

Last week, in an interview with The Kansas City Star, Kansas City, Missouri Police Chief Darryl Forté blamed recent police shootings of young black men on what he called “unreasonable fear” by some officers and “institutional racism” in law enforcement. 

The comments drew the ire of both the Kansas City, Kansas and Kansas City, Missouri police unions.

KCK Fraternal Order of Police President Scott Kirkpatrick posted a long open letter on the union's Facebook Page. In it he calls Forté's remarks "misguided, ridiculous and uninformed," and says the chief had "torn ...healing wounds wide open," in reference to the recent shooting death of two of their colleagues.

Jason Rosenbaum / St. Louis Public Radio

Kansas City Mayor Sly James has been vocal about his call for stricter gun control measures. During a speech Wednesday to the Missouri Delegation at the Democratic National Convention, James gave a blistering critique to Missourians who resist stronger gun control.

“I think it’s time for us to start targeting a few key legislators and supporting their opponents in the way the NRA and other people support them,” James said. 

Those views will make it difficult for the mayor to support his party’s likely nominee for Missouri Governor, Chris Koster.

Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR 89.3

Hundreds of gathered at Children’s Mercy Park Saturday morning, to remember the life of Capt. Robert “Dave” Melton, who was shot and killed pursuing a suspect Tuesday. 

Family members described Melton as tough, dedicated, and caring. He leaves behind six children and stepchildren, as well as a unborn baby girl. 

Fellow officers said he was proud of his military career, and was always professional. Melton served in Iraq and Afghanistan and received a Bronze Star Award for his service. 

Laura Ziegler
KCUR 89.3

Family, friends, and colleagues of Capt. Robert Melton gathered Wednesday evening on the plaza outside Kansas City, Kansas, City Hall to remember the 16-year veteran of the Kansas City, Kansas Police Department. Melton was killed while pursuing a suspect on Tuesday.

Under a row of flags flying at half staff, there was a prayer, some music and words of condolence for Melton's family from Chief Terry Ziegler. Ziegler and his force are still grieving the death of another fallen officer, Det. Brad Lancaster, who was killed in May.

What does it mean to be a white person who wants a place in the Black Lives Matter movement? Some say it starts by acknowledging you’re white. We talk about how to be what activists call ‘white allies.’

Guests:

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

Gavin Eugene Long, the Kansas City man suspected of killing three Baton Rouge law enforcement officers Sunday, projected a number of different identities both virtually and in the real world. 

YouTube videos show him lecturing as a self-styled nutritionist. Self-published books on Amazon delve into an esoteric personal philosophy centered on the values of being an "alpha male." 

And according to documents filed with Jackson County, Long wanted to change his name last year to Cosmo Ausar Setepenra.

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