Update: The victim has been identified as 21-year-old Zachary J. Davignon.
One person is dead following a shooting in the homeless camp on City property at the southwest corner of Independence Avenue and The Paseo earlier this afternoon.
Kansas City Police Department (KCPD) officers and medical personnel were called to the scene just before 2 p.m.
“When they did arrive, they found a male who was suffering from gunshot wounds,” said Capt. Leslie Foreman with the KCPD Media Unit “That male was transported to a local hospital and was pronounced deceased at the hospital.”
Crime scene investigators are on the scene and as of 3:45 p.m., Independence Avenue is still closed between Lydia and The Paseo.
Police don’t have any suspect information at this time, but they ask for the public’s help.
“It’s daytime, so we’re aware this is a busy area,” Foreman said. “Hopefully someone who saw or heard something, please give us a call or TIPS if you want to remain anonymous.”
Police cannot confirm at this time whether the victim or suspect was living in the camp.
The investigation is ongoing as police interview witnesses and search for a suspect.
“Daylight, first of all, you typically have more people who are out and about, there’s some businesses, people may have been frequenting some of these businesses,” Foreman said. “This is Independence and Paseo, it was a fairly busy area anyway for traffic and pedestrians on foot. So yeah, we have the best chance probably in the daylight of somebody maybe seeing or hearing something and coming forward.”
Leadership of Kansas City University, which sits to the east of the crime scene, has pressured the City to find a solution for the people living in tents there, citing potential dangers.
“As always our goal, I think, for all of us who want our community to be as safe as it can be, and I know it’s scary for people when these things happen, I just want them to know we respond quickly and are doing everything we can do it as far as investigating murders and and trying to get the public’s help so that we can hopefully get the person who did this off the streets,” Foreman said.
However, the department isn’t in a position to push the City to take action, Foreman said.
“We collaborate with the City regularly, then to try to assist them in anything that they request in regard to the homeless camps but we kind of take the City’s lead in regard to that,” Foreman said. “We come to assist if they request our assistance if there’s some need for enforcement, or anything like that, so I couldn’t speak directly for the City.”
KC Mothers in Charge responded to the scene to bridge the gap of communication between those affected and the police. Other inhabitants of the camp will not be required to move tonight.
“I wouldn’t say it happens often, but we certainly are called to incidents of that involve violence and crime at homeless camps, just like we are in other parts of the city,” Foreman said. “I couldn’t say statistically what the number is, but we do get called to them on occasion.”
The homicide detectives and crime scene personnel are here and actively processing the scene for evidence. Detectives will be talking to anybody that they can find who is a witness or has some information. Police will be checking cameras trying to get as much information as they can.
If you have any information please call the Homicide unit at 234-5043. If you wish to remain anonymous you can call the TIPS hotline at 474-TIPS, with up to a $25,000 reward for an arrest in this case.