Shots too close for comfort for mayor in tony K.C. district

Kansas City StarAugust 14, 2011 

KANSAS CITY — Mayor Sly James vowed Sunday to put some kind of program in place by next weekend that would help put a stop to large, night-time gatherings of teenagers and pre-teens on the Country Club Plaza, the city's premier shopping district, after a shooting Saturday that left three teens wounded.

The mayor, who was near the scene when the gunfire began, was shoved to the ground by his security detail.

James gave no specifics about what the plan might include. Whatever results will be worked out with the City Council after consultation with school officials, police and the juvenile court, among others.

James did not rule in or rule out imposing an earlier curfew, as suggested by an attorney for Plaza owner Highwoods Properties and others.

“We can’t expect that imposing a curfew is going to stop some 15-, 16-, 17-year-old from bringing a gun to anywhere,” he said at an afternoon news conference. “On the other hand, we should be able to expect parents not to have their 13-year-old children on the Plaza getting shot.”

He said the plan had to be broader than a change in any one ordinance.

The shootings occurred late Saturday near 47th Street and Wyandotte Avenue while the mayor toured the Plaza to assess weekend crowds of young people and the possible need for a curfew.

The city of Philadelphia last week instituted a 9 p.m. curfew after a summer of teenage violence. James had been considering a similar move for parts of Kansas City.

Two boys and a girl — 13, 15 and 16 years old — were wounded the shootings. A bullet grazed the girl’s face, and two boys were shot in their legs. None of the injuries was life-threatening.

James said all three were in stable condition today.

James was about 50 yards down the street from where the shootings broke out.

Kansas City police continue to investigate the shooting and interview witnesses. Police said some of the witnesses apparently know the shooters’ identities but are reluctant to reveal their names.

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