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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Kansas City shooting not motivated by terrorism, officials say

By Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, Jacey Fortin, Kevin Draper and Colbi Edmonds New York Times

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Authorities in Kansas City said Thursday that they were keeping two teenagers in custody after a shooting that tore through the city’s Super Bowl celebration, killing one person and wounding nearly two dozen others, in what appeared to be the result of an argument.

Stacey Graves, the city’s police chief, said at least 22 people were wounded in the shooting Wednesday, in addition to the person who died, and that the victims ranged in age from 8 to 47 years old. At least half of the wounded were younger than 16.

Police said they had initially taken three young people into custody but released one of them after determining that the person was not involved. A police spokesperson, Alayna Gonzalez, said Thursday night that investigators were working with juvenile court prosecutors to “determine applicable charges” against the two teenagers.

The person who died was identified as Elizabeth Galvan, 43, a local DJ who was also known as Lisa Lopez-Galvan. A friend described her as a passionate fan of the city’s football team who was deeply involved in civic events and hosted a radio show.

The police chief said there was no indication that the shooters were motivated by terrorism or extremism, saying instead that the deadly gunfire appeared to have stemmed from some kind of conflict between several people.

“I’m angered about what occurred in our city yesterday,” Chief Graves said.

The shooting erupted as thousands of football fans had crowded into downtown Kansas City after the Chiefs’ Super Bowl win, suddenly turning a day of revelry into one of chaos and panic. As shots rang out, people ran for cover.

Graves praised the response of her department’s officers and firefighters, and also noted that civilians themselves had sprung into action. Videos had captured two parade attendees tackling a person as others ran from gunshots.

“It was just a reaction,” Paul Contreras, who said he had tackled a man after hearing someone else yell to stop him, told NBC’s “Today” show. “I took him down, and as I took him down, I saw the weapon – the gun – fall to the ground,” he said.

Videos showed that two men held the person down until police arrived. Graves lauded the efforts.

“Those in attendance also responded,” Graves said. “They helped one another and even physically stopped a person who was believed to be involved in the incident.”

The shooting took place near the city’s Union Station, a hub that draws tourists to the city each year.

The shock of gun violence pierced an otherwise idyllic winter afternoon, with bright sunshine and temperatures in the 60s greeting a city ready to rejoice in what had become close to an annual rite of February as Kansas City’s team has become the dominant force in the NFL. Columns of fans, many wearing red, had lined the 2-mile parade route, celebrating the Kansas City Chiefs’ second consecutive Super Bowl victory and third in five seasons, waving at players, coaches and team officials riding past in open-top red buses.

Among the crowd was Lopez-Galvan, whose radio show, “Taste of Tejano,” was broadcast on KKFI, a local radio station. She had two young adult children, a son and a daughter, and the radio station said in a social media post Thursday that the son, Marc, had been shot in the leg but was treated at a hospital and released.

Lopez-Galvan was known to watch football games with close friends in her garage, according to one friend. That friend, Lisa Lopez, said she and Lopez-Galvan, who were not related, would often call each other “tocaya,” Spanish for “namesake.”

Lopez described Lopez-Galvan as the life of the party, and said she had recently joined a group that helped to organize Fiesta Hispana, an annual festival in downtown Kansas City.

“She was loved by everybody in our community,” said Lopez, who is an executive administrative assistant at the Kansas City Star newspaper. “Our Hispanic community lost a beautiful, wonderful person.”

Lopez said her friend also had been a big fan of the Chiefs. Lopez-Galvan was superstitious about watching the team’s games each week with the same people, hoping it was good luck for the team, her friend recalled. In fact, she said, Lopez-Galvan would not let anyone new join the group.

After Kansas City won the Super Bowl on Sunday, Lopez-Galvan had texted Lopez to ask if she could save her a newspaper commemorating the team’s win.

The Super Bowl parade officially began at 11 a.m. and ended with a rally at Union Station, the century-old rail depot that has been redeveloped into a destination with shops, restaurants and a science center.

Just before 2 p.m., Abel King, 12, was tossing footballs with other children in an open area not far from the crowds by the rally’s main stage. He climbed trees to get a better view of his favorite Chiefs players, whose celebratory speeches were being broadcast over big screens.

As the event came to an end, Abel and his parents, Kourtney and Jesse King, of Independence, Missouri, got ready to go, but an altercation between at least four people broke out beside them, the parents said in interviews. They said a woman and a man exchanged harsh words with two other men, at least one of whom may have been a teenager.

Then, they said, they saw guns being drawn. Two of the men started firing at each other, Jesse King said, with little regard to where their guns were pointing.

“They were running away from each other,” Jesse King said. “but they were still firing weapons behind their backs, just not really aiming.”

Kourtney King said she pulled her 4-year-old son away in a wagon while her 14-year-old son tried to shield it with his body. Abel ran in a different direction, his father sprinting after him.

By then, bystanders had begun to fall. Jesse King said he saw two young children who appeared to have been shot in the leg, and three more people with bloody injuries. He found Abel and did his best to shield the child’s eyes.

“I didn’t really see much,” Abel said. “But I did see blood.”

Not far away, Vanessa Waterfield, 36, and her friend Shayla Burst, 24, tried to run, but they got pushed backward by panicking attendees.

“We almost got stampeded on,” Burst said. The two friends saw a woman fall face first to the ground – and then stop moving. They wondered if she had been shot, and they ran, clambering over barricades until, sobbing and shaking, they took refuge at a nearby hotel.

The two women, both of whom live in Kansas City, said they would be wary of crowded places from now on. And Waterfield, who had taken off her red Chiefs jacket in the hot sun and tied it around her waist before the shooting began, now associates it with something very different from a giddy Super Bowl victory. “I’m ready to just throw that away,” she said, “every time I look at it.”

Local hospitals said Thursday that they had at least seven people still in treatment, including at least two patients in critical condition. Of the 12 patients taken to one hospital, Children’s Mercy, 11 were children ages 6-15.

Jacob Gooch Sr. said he was standing near the southwest side of Union Station when he heard noises that sounded like fireworks. When his ankle felt hot, he thought a spark had burned him. In fact, he had been shot, and he fell as he tried to run.

Trying to crawl to safety, Gooch lost sight of his group, which included his girlfriend and son, who he said were both also shot. His son, he said, now has a bullet lodged in the bottom of his foot.

“I can’t believe my family got hit,” Gooch said. “It’s crazy to think someone had a gun pointed at you and pulled the trigger.”

The governors of Kansas and Missouri were both at the rally but were not hurt.

Quinton Lucas, the mayor of Kansas City, said he was at the parade with his wife and mother, and was in Union Station when he heard gunfire.

“When you have people who decide to bring guns to events, when you have people who are deciding to try to mar events – celebratory ones, like this one – all of us start to become members of this club that none of us want to be a part of,” Lucas said.

Patrick Mahomes, the Kansas City Chiefs quarterback who led his team to victory over the San Francisco 49ers Sunday, said he was “praying for Kansas City.” Travis Kelce, the star tight end, wrote that he was “heartbroken,” adding, “KC, you mean the world to me.”

The shooting was a reminder for some, young and old, about the effects of gun violence.

Dana Brady and her 14-year-old daughter, Madison, froze at first when they heard the popping of gunfire, then saw a blur of people run toward them, Brady said. They found cover in Union Station, sitting down beside a woman and her young children, who were crying.

“We talked about this in school,” Brady recalled one of the children saying. “To turn off our phones and be very quiet.”

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.