On Friday, September 13, 2019, Sara Smith said her brother Jordan was having a fantastic day. He went to visit his father and see a friend in Northeast Kansas City and had plans on spending a $10 voucher “on the boats.”
But he never made it.
Smith was shot and killed outside the Express Stop on Independence Avenue at approximately 3:30 in the afternoon.
Detectives said they are still investigating the incident and no suspect has been placed in custody.
Smith’s death marked the 109th of 110 homicides in Kansas City this year, 14 more than this time last year.
What this number does not reflect is the life of a man who spent his time caring for the world’s most vulnerable.
Growing up in Independence, Missouri, he attended William Chrisman High School and was a member of the school’s student newspaper.
“Journalism was his passion,” Sara Smith said. “When we were little, he used to make a family newspaper and we used to have to do submissions. He was all about the newspaper.”
Smith described her brother as having encyclopedia-level genius and the wittiest humor of anyone she has ever met.
Jordan’s daughter, Samantha, said her father’s work in journalism meshed with his love for people.
“His interest in journalism got him talking to all people from all walks of life and it made him even more compassionate towards people in different situations,” she said. “He noticed there was a lot of things people were experiencing and nobody was really giving them a voice.”
Jordan moved to the Historic Northeast area a few years ago to make a new life on his own.
In 2011, he met Bishop Tony Caldwell at the Justice and Dignity Center and became a member of the Kansas City Peacekeepers, a community group that advocates for nonviolence and vows to keep peace in Kansas City.
Bishop Caldwell offered Jordan transitional housing where he said Jordan flourished as an anchor tenant in a home full of diverse people.
“He was able to accomplish so much himself at once with no resources,” Caldwell said. “His living was his life. His life was helping people in any form or fashion, that’s what he did.”
His daughter said Jordan would consider himself a community activist.
“If there was an article written about him, that’s what he would want it to say. Activist,” she said.
Sara said her brother didn’t know a stranger.
“He didn’t know anyone who wasn’t his friend,” she said. “If he came to my house and needed food, he wouldn’t just get food for himself. He would get food for a whole house. He took up for the little guy.”
The family said Jordan, in his effort to help people by any means necessary, had a reputation for not being street smart.
His daughter Samantha said there were times he wasn’t able to call for weeks because he had given his phone away to someone who needed it.
“He thought people would treat him the way he wanted to be treated,” she said. “He was always talking to people as well, so he would sometimes get involved in their troubles without realizing it would put him at risk.”
Bishop Caldwell said Jordan wasn’t the type to investigate or ask questions.
“If you told him you were hungry, he would figure out how to get you fed,” he said. “He wouldn’t ask what you had in your cupboards. He would just work to solve the problem.”
Discussing the incident on Independence Avenue, Smith said she had only one thought when she got the news.
“When I first found out that he got shot, my first thought was that he jumped in on something he shouldn’t have jumped in on,” she said. “He did not have enemies that would harm him, but he would run toward something that he should not have run towards. He didn’t have a street understanding of ‘bad.’ His top priority was helping people.”
In the home Jordan lived in, across the street from the church, Bishop Caldwell said there is a group of people that Jordan took care of, fed, clothed, and protected.
Now, Caldwell said he has had people from the home walk across the street to ask for food and help, something that Jordan had done on his own.
“Who is going to be there, now,” asked Caldwell. “Who is going to be the one to take care of them like he did?”
Referring to Jordan’s death, Sara said the idea of someone pulling out a weapon in that instance is something she has a hard time understanding.
“There is no reason for him to go this way,” she said about her brother. “I’m feeling the senselessness of anyone who is losing their life this way. I don’t know what the solution is. This is just heartbreaking. I just don’t understand pulling out something that ends someone’s life. I don’t even know the reason you would need to do that.”
Sara said on his birthday, Jordan posted on Facebook, asking people to donate to NourishKC. No one donated.
However, after his death, Sara reposted the donation button on her Facebook, and the donations have reached over $1,100.
“I know he is just tickled pink by that, I just know he is,” she said. “That money will feed a lot of people.”
Sara said her brother will be greatly missed.
“It’s quiet around here without him,” she said. “The phone isn’t ringing. He’s not walking in the front door. Of all the people on the planet, this is not one who should have been shot down.”