Published September 21, 2020 at 7:08 PM CDT
Updated: September 22 at 4:08 p.m.
The 22-month-old toddler shot to death Monday afternoon in Kansas City has been identified as Tyron Payton.
Mayor Quinton Lucas is calling on people to speak up and help police find the person responsible. A $25,000 reward is being offered for information that leads to an arrest.
“Even if you just have a hunch, even if you just heard that somebody was involved, this is your chance to make that level of difference,” Lucas told KCUR.
According to police, Tyron and three adults were in a car near the 2900 block of East 33rd Street when someone fired into the vehicle. Tyron and his parents were hit by the gunfire.
The driver of the vehicle then went to the fire station at Linwood and Indiana for help.
All three victims were transported to area hospitals. Tyron died in hospital care. No further details are known about the status of his parents.
In a tweet, the Kansas City Police Department said they were “stunned at this callousness and violence” and that they would not rest until they find the killer.
According to police, detectives will be processing the scene where the shooting occurred for evidence and canvassing for witnesses. They are investigating the shooting as a homicide.
Second murder of a child this summer
Monday’s shooting is the second high-profile killing of a child under the age of 5 in Kansas City this summer.
On June 29, 4-year-old LeGend Taliferro was killed while sleeping in his room at Citadel Apartments near 63rd Street and The Paseo.
Taliferro’s death sparked a national crime fighting effort named in his honor. Operation LeGend, spearheaded by U.S. Attorney General William Barr, is now in operation in nine cities.
“Operation LeGend is the heart of the federal government’s response to this upturn in violent crime,” Barr said in August. “Its mission is to save lives, solve crimes, and take violent offenders off the streets before they can claim more victims.”
Officials with the Department of Justice say the effort so far has netted more than 2,000 arrests in nice cities, including 113 in Kansas City, Missouri.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Kansas City, 34 of the Kansas City defendants have been charged with narcotics-related offenses, while 68 face charges related to firearms and 11 have been charged with “other violent crimes.”
Kansas City’s growing homicide problem
Tyron is the sixth homicide victim under the age of five this year, and the 144th homicide overall, according to the Kansas City Police Department’s daily homicide analysis.
Lucas joined police at the scene and shared condolences on Twitter, as well as a call to action.
My heart breaks for another baby to be buried in our city. Somebody knows what happened. Protecting a murderer like this, who fires on the innocent, isn’t adhering to any code, it’s killing our community. Praying the victims who survived will pull through.
— Mayor Q (@QuintonLucasKC) September 21, 2020
The majority of suspects in the killings this year are between the ages of 17 and 24. Lucas says those are the people he’s trying hardest to reach.
“There’s going to be somebody in their twenties right now, who is driving around town, there’s somebody in their twenties, probably, who committed this heinous crime,” Lucas told KCUR. “But there’s somebody else who knows them, or there’s somebody else who knows the beef or there’s somebody else who knows the people. You know what’s going on.”
Lucas says he’s spent a lot of time this summer talking about criminal justice and police reform. He asks those who have been loud about their demands for police reform be equally loud about the homicide rate.
“I ask them to also get loud about making sure that babies can grow up in our community,” Lucas said, “and to make sure there aren’t crime scenes by playgrounds and middle schools and all that we’re tolerating too much of in inner city Kansas City right now.”