In an ideal world, it would not matter who was responsible for the slayings of five middle-aged white men walking on or near the river trails in south Kansas City, but this world is far from ideal. The Kansas City Star and other media, which routinely use “race” as a club against their political opponents, are already struggling with the narrative in this case.
On Tuesday, prosecutors charged Fredrick Demond Scott, an African American, in the murder of two of the five victims, Steven Gibbons, 57, and John Palmer, 54. Scott remains a suspect in the three other killings. All five victims were shot, four in the head, three in the back of the head, and a fourth was shot in the back.
According to legal documents, the telltale evidence came with the murder of Gibbons, whose death on August 13 had not been previously linked to the other four. Gibbons took a KCATA bus to 67th Street and headed east. Scott followed him off the bus and shot him as he approached his home on East 67th Street. Surveillance videos from the bus and local businesses enabled KCPD to crack the case. According to the complaint, “Scott admitted to shooting the victim. He stated that he was removing the gun from his pocket when it accidentally went off.” DNA from a cigarette and an iced tea bottle linked Scott to the Gibbons murder. DNA found at the Palmer murder scene a year prior proved to be Scott’s.
The evidence linking Scott to the other three murders is very strong. As Scott told the police, he routinely used the Indian Creek Trail for shortcuts to his destinations. Said Scott to the detectives under his breath, “They didn’t see it coming.”
Only in the ninth paragraph of its article does the Star mention that those killed were all white men. The Star makes no reference to Scott’s race, but its editors did include photos. True to form, Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said, “To the families, there’s no motive that makes sense. There just isn’t.” Prosecutors and the media find it much easier to attribute motive when a person of color is killed by a white man.
In February of this year, a drunken peckerwood named Adam Purinton shot and killed an Indian engineer in Olathe thinking the man was an Iranian. The media nationwide ran with this story and shamelessly tied the shooting to the rise of Donald Trump. The Kansas City Star posted more than 50 articles on this one crime alone.
It remains to be seen whether the South KC trail slayings will get this kind of coverage. On Tuesday evening’s Star homepage, the arrest of Royals pitcher Danny Duffy on a DUI got top billing.