Elite gun squad helps connect dots in violent crime cases - KCTV5

GUNS IN THE HEARTLAND

Elite gun squad helps connect dots in violent crime cases

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An elite team known as the gun squad works behind the scenes, tracing weapons and making connections between victims and the possible suspects. (KCTV5) An elite team known as the gun squad works behind the scenes, tracing weapons and making connections between victims and the possible suspects. (KCTV5)
KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

An elite team known as the gun squad works behind the scenes, tracing weapons and making connections between victims and the possible suspects.

In 2015, Kansas City had 109 homicides. Firearms were used in 91 of those killings. That’s 83 percent of all homicides.

In all those crimes, the gun squad was involved. 

People rarely hear about this special squad on purpose. They investigate nearly every violent crime and target the most dangerous criminals. One member of the squad, whose identity is being protected, explains how they can trace the weapons.

"We can take the gun and trace it back to the original owner and start back tracking from there. Where the gun went from the original owner and how did it get into the hands of the person we just arrested," the squad member said.

The gun squad has been useful in several cases, including the case of Rashawn Long, who is suspected of murdering at least five people. Long was convicted of killing Michael Birks in 2001 and spent 12 years in prison. After his release, federal agents suspected him of committing at least four other murders including a 3-year-old girl and her mother.

Although Long has not been convicted of those deaths, the gun squad’s investigation helped federal prosecutors in putting him away for possibly another 30 years.

“Once we learn or get information on a certain person or group, then we start compiling information and then we start proactively targeting not just that individual but the individual and his associates,” said the member of the gun squad.

The gun squad is made up of four detectives and a sergeant from Kansas City Police Department and four agents and a supervisor from the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms.

What helps this gun squad complete their investigations is what comes from the community. Tips and confidential informants help the squad as they spend days, weeks - even months - watching a target to build a case.

It’s not easy for the gun squad.

“Our criminals are educated and they’ve been through the system before and they learn all the investigative techniques used to catch them the first time so it makes it difficult to follow somebody or investigate them without them picking up on us,” said the member of the gun squad. “It’s also dangerous. Detectives in this unit are often in the middle of potentially deadly situations.”

When people hear of shots being fired or a pursuit with shots fired, it is very likely that the officers of this squad are involved.

New tips and information come in all the time, and the gun squad works 60-plus hour weeks. That’s normal for them. They don’t complain because they believe in what they are doing.

“It takes violent criminals off the street and it takes guns off the street and when people start interacting with us, we learn more about what’s going on and can focus more attention on those who are out here committing violent crimes,” said the unidentified gun squad member.

The gun squad was formed in 2009. They have been credited with putting many people who illegally possess a gun behind bars before they have a chance to use those guns to commit a violent crime.

That helps keep the city a safer place.

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