In one of the least reassuring explanations in recent memory, the Kansas City Police Department insists “there is no highway shooter this time, that the highways are safe and most people hit were unintended victims of random gunshots or caught in crossfire.” (Italics added) The KCPD was responding to the fact that since August 17, there have been at least ten shootings on U.S. 71–a.k.a. “Felony Freeway”–and Interstate 435, almost all of these on the city’s east and south sides.
In one a woman traveling on I-435 with her mother was shot in the leg. A man driving southbound earlier this month on I-435 had his rear window shot out. Last week, a bullet flew through a passenger window and struck a man in the back of his head. He survived. The man traveling southbound on I-71 near Meyer was not so lucky. A bullet killed him.
The public is asked to take comfort in the fact that the shootings on area highways seem random. This was not the case in 2014 when “highway shooter” Mohammed Whitaker shot up cars and people in the same general area. The stories of the highway shooter, reports the Kansas City Star, “drew national attention.” The Star neglects to add that the attention vanished quicker than a magician’s nickel when the media learned the shooter’s first name was “Mohammed.”
“There are a lot of recklessly minded people out there with guns,” Kansas City police spokeswoman Sgt. Kari Thompson told the Star. She believes that most victims just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. “People are getting caught in the crossfire,” Thompson added. “We don’t see any evidence to connect any of these shootings. We are looking at trends. If we see a connection, we will communicate that to the public.”
In fairness to Thompson and the KCPD, the claim the highways are “safe” was a paraphrase and not a direct quote. Thompson should clarify. That word can only come back to haunt her and the KCPD.