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Kansas City To Get Federal Help With Investigating Spike In Fatal Shootings

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany speaks during a press briefing at the White House on Wednesday, July 8.
Evan Vucci
Associated Press
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany speaks during a press briefing at the White House on Wednesday, July 8.

The White House announced the additional resources from FBI, DEA and other federal agencies on Wednesday. Mayor Quinton Lucas says he was surprised by the announcement.

Kansas City will be getting federal help in the next 10 days for its investigations of unsolved homicides and non-fatal shootings, an influx that comes as the city has seen 100 homicides and is on pace to top 150.

And the effort will be called “Operation LeGend” for LeGend Taliferro, a four-year-old who was killed June 29 while sleeping in his room at Citadel Apartments near The Paseo and 63rd Street.

The White House said resources would come from the FBI, DEA, U.S. Marshals Service and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

U.S. Attorney General William Barr already issued a "surge" of federal agents for the city late last year, which also saw high numbers of fatal shootings. At the time, there were few details about when help would arrive and how many people would be involved.

While Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas only learned of the new resources on social media, he had sent a letter last week to Missouri Gov. Mike Parson requesting help to combat violence in the city, which has seen 40 percent increase over this time last year in homicides.

“This is not for patrolling, this is not for policing activities, this is to solve many of the unsolved homicides and shootings that we have in Kansas City,” Lucas said in a statement.

“This is for investigation. This is for support, this is for clearing of homicides, this is for clearing of non-fatal shootings, this is for making sure that people find justice,” emphasized Lucas, who announced new police review policies after protests over racism and police brutality. “This is not more federal agents … just coming to town to take over policing.”

Parson said this week he'll be calling a special session of the Missouri General Assembly, and White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany cited Lucas' letter as she delivered the news at a briefing Wednesday.

In part, the letter said: “I would ask that our senators and representatives vote on legislation to enhance witness protection funding in Missouri and address how we can provide more tools for law enforcement and prosecutors to interrupt conspiracies to commit murder and other violent acts, particularly offenses committed by felons using deadly weapons.”

Reacting to the new Department of Justice effort, Lucas also said the investigative support “can be but only one tool out of many in how we address our violent crime problem.”

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