‘Just unfathomable’: NKC officer shot during traffic stop dies from injuries
NORTH KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) - A North Kansas City police officer has died from his injuries after he was shot in the line of duty.
The Clay County Sheriff’s Office said a person of interest has been taken into custody after he shot Officer Daniel Vasquez during a traffic stop.
“[He was] a shining star for our department,” Police Chief Kevin Freeman said of the two-year officer with the North Kansas City Police Department. “All these are tragedies. But to see such a young person so early on his career lose his life to such senseless violence, it’s just unfathomable.”
“A phenomenal person,” Chief Freeman also said. “Easy to talk to. He didn’t have an enemy. Everybody was his friend. It’s just senseless. It’s senseless all the time, but he was just a great great human being.”
Freeman said it marks the first time a North Kansas City Police Department officer has died in the line of duty.
Vasquez, 32, was taken to North Kansas City Hospital following the shooting. He ultimately died there from his injuries. Law enforcement has already escorted Ofc. Vasquez from the hospital for an autopsy.
“It turned from a sad day to a tragic day,” North Kansas City Mayor Bryant DeLong said. “I know the whole North Kansas City community stands behind our police force. We’ll be here for the family. We’ll be here for all of our other employees. Please, if you need anything, reach out.”
An online portal to donate to the officer’s family has been arranged for the public. You can access it here.
No further processions will be happening until Ofc. Vasquez’s family has made funeral arrangements.
Peer support is being offered to North Kansas City police officers as they process the news.
“It is a tight tight-knit community,” Chief Freeman said. “It’s going to be a struggle for a while, for our officers to come to grips with that and be ready to still go out and do the job, but crime doesn’t stop.”
Clay County Sheriff Will Akin said Ofc. Vasquez was pulling a person over because of an expired temporary tag on the car when the driver fired his weapon at the officer.
A release stated Ofc. Vasquez had initiated the traffic stop in the area of 21st and Clay streets in North Kansas City.
Missouri State Highway Patrol issued a Blue Alert for the suspect vehicle, which was an early-model 2000s gray Ford Taurus with the Missouri temporary license number 03GU43 that expired in 2018. The tag was previously registered for a Buick, police said.
A suspect later surrendered himself and was taken into custody, Freeman said. He had not yet been identified as of 2:40 p.m.
The Kansas City Police Department stated that they were asked to conduct the investigation into the homicide of Ofc. Vasquez.
The KCPD said that the suspect turned himself in within their jurisdiction and that he remains in custody on an investigative hold. They also said they anticipate presenting the case to the Clay County Prosecutor for consideration of applicable charges.
KCTV5 News spoke to a witness who felt helpless when she and her coworkers discovered someone shot a police officer near their workplace.
“I was grooming a dog,” she said. “I had my headphones on. I looked at my coworker suddenly and her face looked like she was panicked. She told me she heard gunshots. I look outside and the construction workers were all going to the back.”
“I did feel helpless,” she said. “I didn’t know what to do in that situation. I could see the officer lying on the ground. When I approached the, officer he was badly injured.”
Moments after, she said, she saw another police officer arrive and begin performing CPR.
“I cannot express how excruciating this senseless death is for our organization and community,” the city of North Kansas City posted on Twitter Tuesday evening. “Daniel’s family, the NKC Police Department, and our entire community are grieving from this tragedy. Daniel served the NKC community proudly and bravely for almost two years.”
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