KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) – There have been nine shootings in the past 48 hours. All of them were in Kansas City and multiple people are now hurt as a result.
So, what's being done to stop this violence, especially during a pandemic? On Thursday, KCTV5’s Abigael Jaymes spoke with KCPD Chief Rick Smith to find out.
Chief Smith wrote a blog post just yesterday about how there were seven shootings in just nine hours in KC. In the hours after it was published, two more shootings occurred.
To make matters even worse, the majority of those victims and suspects are juveniles. No one has died at this point, but several have life-threatening injuries.
One thing Chief Smith said is that police presence is not deterring those set on committing violent acts. He pointed out that in most of the shootings police were either close enough to hear the gunfire or were able to get there in just minutes.
Smith added that the the system was pretty overloaded to begin with before the pandemic. With other parts of the criminal justice system not operating at normal capacity, he says it’s creating the perfect storm for the set-up of crime.
Smith said the department is frustrated and is trying a number of tactics to reduce the violence. He said they need policy changes and the community’s support.
He said, “Look at the community backing for a virus. As people have pointed out, there’s way more people that have died from homicides then they have from the virus. Do we have this kind of community support for violent crime? I don’t see it that way.”
KCTV5 spoke with several people in the Westport area where a triple shooting occurred on Wednesday.
Westport Business owner, Nick Gatzoulis, heard the gunshots from his business when the rolling gun battle went by.
“They were powering like firecrackers,” he recalled. “I closed my door down. I wanted to shut my door because I didn’t even know where they were coming from.”
An innocent bystander is now in the hospital after being hit by the gunfire.
“There was a lady in a wheelchair that was shot,” said Gatzoulis.
Another business owner named Bill Nigro is frustrated with the violence in the area and has a message for troublemakers. “Westport has the best private security in Kansas City,” he said.
So, what’s next? As Chief Smith points out, something needs to change.
“We can’t keep doing the same thing,” he said. “It’s not working. We have to have a policy change. And, honestly, we have to have some community backing.”
Riley Voth, who frequents Westport, said: “They don’t have anything they can spend their time meaningfully doing, so what do they do? A tragedy like this happens. It’s up to all of us to identify the problem, help do things, maybe open our hearts and pockets to actually solving some issues.”
According to KCPD, as of May 20th, 219 people have been shot and managed to survive. That’s compared to the 165 the same time last year.