Mayor Sly James caught in middle of Plaza melee - KCTV5

Mayor Sly James caught in middle of Plaza melee

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Mayor Pro Tem Cindy Circo, from left to right, Kansas City Mayor Sly James and Kansas City, Mo., police Capt. Steve Young addressed the media during a news conference Sunday. Mayor Pro Tem Cindy Circo, from left to right, Kansas City Mayor Sly James and Kansas City, Mo., police Capt. Steve Young addressed the media during a news conference Sunday.

Three teens were shot Saturday night on the Country Club Plaza, and Kansas City Mayor Sly James was pushed to the ground by his concerned security detail.

James said Sunday that he plans action in response to what he called a "bizarre and surreal set of circumstances," which included Kansas City police officers pushing him into a flower bed to avoid the gunfire about 50 yards away.

Click here to read Monday's update on whether James will impose this week an emergency teen curfew in response to violence on the Plaza.

Police said the shootings happened at 47th Street and Wyandotte Avenue, which is near the Cheesecake Factory and Mill Creek Park, around 11:30 p.m. Saturday. This came as hundreds of youth roamed the upscale dining and shopping district. Kansas City's curfew for those under 18 years old is midnight on Saturday nights.

Two of the shooting victims were boys, ages 13 and 16, and the third victim was a 15-year-old girl, police said. All three are expected to recover.

"We can't have mobs of kids gathering and shooting other kids on public streets, and I don't care where that is," James said during an afternoon news conference held at his City Hall office.

Former Mayor Pro Tem Alvin Brooks and several community leaders were with James. The community, civic and religious leaders had come to the Plaza on Saturday night in an effort to prevent violence on what is the last true weekend of summer for many area students who return to class this week.

"They forced me into the flower bed and held me down until the shooting stopped and people stopped running, but it was a very bizarre and surreal set of circumstances to see what was going on," James said.

Property management for the Country Club Plaza, Highwoods Properties, released a statement Sunday regarding the Saturday evening incident.

"We were saddened to learn that three people were injured last night on the Plaza. They and their families are in our thoughts and prayers, as we wish them their expected full recoveries," the statement read.

A curfew would help, but the Plaza is working with James and the police on other measures as well, Highwoods said in its statement.

"The safety and security of Plaza visitors and merchants are always our top priorities and we are proactively working with the Police Department to help prevent further violence of any kind on the Plaza. A curfew would have merit in our view, but that is a decision our capable mayor and his team of municipal experts need to weigh. This isolated incident was a random and unfortunate act and further action is being taken to keep it that way," Highwoods said.

Before the shots had erupted Saturday night, James met with reporters to talk about the Plaza and residents calling for a 9 p.m. curfew because of concerns about large groups of kids congregating and the potential for violence. The idea of an earlier curfew had initially met with a tepid response from James.

After what happened Saturday night, James says he will work with police, his colleagues on the council and school districts in Kansas City to get something done this week to control the problems.

James says the bottom line is that parents must control their kids.

"The problem is parents dropping underage children there and allowing them to roam freely without supervision or control," said James.

A heavy police presence could be seen throughout the area after the shootings Saturday.

Police on horseback and motorcycles worked to disperse people from the scene and some areas were blocked off.

Several ambulances were called to the area.

The Country Club Plaza is a big tourist attraction which offers shopping, dining and entertainment in Kansas City. It was America's first outdoor shopping district and captures the feel of Spain and Morocco. 

Police are still looking for the gunman and no arrests have been made. on Friday exclusively obtained a request from the Plaza to James and council members for a 9 p.m. citywide curfew. Click here to read that story. And click here to read more, including local reaction to the idea of a 9 p.m. curfew.

Kansas City now has an 11 p.m. weeknight curfew for those 17 years old and younger. The curfew is midnight on Friday and Saturday nights.

Talk about the violence on the Plaza lit up Twitter, Facebook and other websites on Sunday.

Some residents told KCTV5's Nima Shaffe they are concerned and the city must act quickly to find solutions before the problem worsens.

"It's very, very sad," said Diane Young.

She said an earlier curfew could be necessary in order "to be safe on the Plaza."

Plaza resident Les Clark said more than beefed up police protection is needed to counteract the problems from unruly youth.

"Our concern is about the quality of life on the Plaza and having business here," Clark said. "It takes control of the neighborhood to do so . . . . To us, saving the Plaza is more about having control of the population here and providing a great environment for business." 

Councilwoman Jan Marcason, whose Fourth District includes the Plaza, said over the past week she's been receiving telephone calls, emails and letters from those worried about out-of-control crowds of teens that roam the Plaza especially on weekend nights.

She called on those who know who fired the shots Saturday to overcome their fears and come forward and name the suspects to police.

Former Mayor Mark Funkhouser had foregone a security detail by the Kansas City Police Department after he took office in May 2007. However, after the shootings earlier this year in Arizona killed a federal judge and injured Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, Police Chief Jim Corwin insisted that Funkhouser received police protection.

James has continued to receive the same police protection, which is typically Kansas City police officers in plain clothes.

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