Devastated parents want law change after stray bullet kills daughter


Eleven-year-old Blair Michaela Shanahan Lane enjoyed the Fourth of July like she had every year since she was 2 years old.

She was watching her family shoot off fireworks in her uncle's spacious backyard in a scenic portion of Kansas City just east of the Truman Sports Complex.

But someone celebrated the holiday by firing off a gun instead of fireworks. And Blair crumpled to the ground, shot in the neck.

And now her grieving parents want a change in Missouri law. They want to make it a felony to illegally charge a firearm and hope to call it Blair's Law.

"What goes up, comes down somewhere," Michele Shanahan DeMoss, Blair's mother, said Tuesday afternoon. "And it doesn't just come down. It came down the way it came down."

Blair's father, Brian DeMoss, said he initially thought his daughter had been hit by fireworks when she tumbled to the ground.

"She just fell to the ground," DeMoss said. "We had no idea what it was."

Kansas City police have identified the handgun that fired the fatal shot just after 9 p.m. on the Fourth of July. Police say four suspects were passing the gun among themselves. Sources tell KCTV5 that one of the men was a security guard at the Whispering Lakes Apartments.

Residents have told KCTV5 that they heard the sound of what they thought were gunshots coming from the area of the apartment complex, which is on 43rd Street near Pittman Road.

The Jackson County Prosecutor's Office is reviewing the case to determine how to proceed since investigators cannot positively identify which of the four men actually fired the fatal shot.

A University of Missouri at Kansas City law professor tells KCTV5 that the suspects could face more than misdemeanor charges because someone carelessly firing a gun can reasonably assume that a bullet can hit someone.

Blair died at Children's Mercy Hospital almost 24 hours after she was shot. Her parents said they donated her organs.

"Her heart went to a 14-year-old boy, her lungs went to a 13-year-old girl, her kidneys to a 17-year-old boy and her pancreas and kidneys to a 58-year-old man," Michele DeMoss said.

Blair's parents knew she was a special girl. She literally would give her shoes to classmates. She was working on a project to provide brightly colored socks to foster children when she was taken too soon from her family.

"It was her fourth-grade year," her mother said. "She took all her birthday money and bought each student a book from the book fair."

Michele DeMoss is still wearing her daughter's favorite bracelet and the hospital bracelet she got after she was rushed to the hospital. She also now adorns her hair with the hair band that Blair was wearing that fateful night.

She can't stop being haunted by the memories of watching her daughter collapse just a few feet away from her.

"Without any doubt, I told Blair she was going to do big things and that she was going to amaze people," her mother recalls. "To sit here and put it out in one room in one moment. It's amazing to me to realize how special she really was."



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