Hours before dawn on Monday, someone fired a gun into an apartment building, adding to the hundreds of shootings recorded in Kansas City each year. In this case, the four-year-old victim was killed as he slept. He was the 95th homicide victim of the year in Kansas City, where an onslaught of shootings in the first six months of 2020 has put the city on pace for its deadliest year ever, reports the Kansas City Star. Police said they think the shooter intentionally targeted the youth’s apartment. “This is a nightmare for any parent and I can’t imagine the pain with which they’re dealing this morning,” said Mayor Quinton Lucas. At this time last year, the city had recorded 28 fewer homicides, with 67. The year ended with 153. Not even halfway through the year, homicides in 2020 have also surpassed the totals from 2002, 1984, 1973 and 1972.
“The amount of gunfire in the city is absolutely horrible,” said Police Chief Rick Smith, a former homicide detective, calling the number of homicides this year “unprecedented.” The majority of homicides in which the circumstances are known stem from arguments. In addition to homicides, nonfatal shootings throughout the city are “exploding,” said the Rev. Ronald Lindsay of Concord Fortress of Hope Church. At least 314 people have been shot and survived this year, leaving them with physical and psychological injuries. The Kansas City No Violence Alliance, or KC NoVA, aimed to use a strategy called “focused deterrence” to target violent people and their associates and offer them a choice: change your behavior or go to jail. In exchange, they would get help finding jobs and getting an education, along with other assistance. After the plan’s initial success in 2014, the police department dismantled the strategy when homicides increased again by the end of 2015. It has not been replaced.