© 2024 Kansas City Public Radio
NPR in Kansas City
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Police investigating shooting at Independence Center mall that injured 4

Indepdence police officers responded to a shooting call on Friday afternoon.
Laura Ziegler
KCUR 89.3
Indepdence police officers responded to a shooting call on Friday afternoon.

The mall, located about 10 miles east of Kansas City, has been the scene of other violence.

Four people were transported to Centerpoint Medical Center in Independence after being injured in a shooting at the Independence Center mall Friday afternoon, according to police. One person was critically injured. One of the four wounded is also a suspect.

According to KSHB 41, one of the injured is a pregnant woman who is on life support.

Independence Police officers responded to reports of gunshots at the shopping center around 2:20 p.m. Independence Center director of leasing Holly Solomon said police arrived "within minutes" of the shooting.

A nighttime shot of the exterior of the Independence Center mall with two police vehicles parked outside.
Laura Ziegler
KCUR 89.3
Police responded to a shooting at the Independence Center mall on Friday afternoon, and maintained a presence at the shopping center into the evening as crime scene technicians processed the scene.

“It happened fast," she said. "They were barely inside the mall. They ran into the parking lot where they were almost immediately taken into custody, is my understanding."

Taylor confirmed that three people fled the mall in a vehicle and were taken into custody nearby.

The shooting happened at the 39th Street entrance to the mall, said Jack Taylor, a spokesperson for the Independence Police Department.

“Two groups of people, it appears that they had some kind of interaction right inside the mall and shots were fired," he said. "I don't know what the discussion was, I don't know what the interaction was at this point, but those two groups of people met up and that's how the shooting happened.”

Taylor said it's not uncommon to see shootings start this way.

"We see it out, not just at the mall, but other places around the city as well, where people get in disturbances and they're real quick to pull firearms to try to settle those disputes," he said. "This just happens to be a place where people gather, and so those disputes happen to pop up here."

Independence police officers investigate the shooting, which happened at about 2:20 p.m. on Friday.
Laura Ziegler
KCUR 89.3
Independence police officers investigate the shooting, which happened at about 2:20 p.m. on Friday.

It’s unclear whether law enforcement is looking for any other suspects. The 39th Street entrance to the mall will be closed for “quite some time” while police process the scene, Taylor said.

The Independence Center, located about 10 miles east of Kansas City, has been the scene of other violence. Large fights in 2020 — one involving as many as 500 people — led it to enact a curfew. A 17-year was fatally shot outside the mall in 2018, and another shooting in 2012 wounded two.

Police have a substation at the mall, but Taylor said the officer assigned there was not working because of the Veterans Day holiday. Another Independence officer who was working at a store responded.

At this time, police do not know if any mall security personnel returned fire.

Nick Stephens told KMBC-TV that when the gunfire rang out, he initially thought something had fallen and didn’t think much of it.

Police urged anyone with information about the shooting who did not already speak to officers at the scene to contact the KC Crimestoppers Tip Hotline at 816-474-TIPS.

“Then I saw people looking for a hiding spot,” he said. “When I saw people actually running, I grabbed my stuff and ‘we gotta go.’ The mall security told everyone to get out.”

Christopher Stephens said the noise was so loud he could hear it through his headphones.

“I was watching video on my phone and volume all the way up and I heard what sounded like an automatic gun,” he said. “I’m thinking someone fell. I see people running and telling us to go. He’s got a gun.”

The City of Independence thanked first responders in a statement responding to the shooting.

"This act of violence in our community saddens us. The safety of our citizens and visitors is always our top priority," the statement reads. "We have many questions, just like all of you. But now, we would like to focus our energy on those injured and impacted by this event."

Solomon, the mall's leasing agent, said employees saw a number of witnesses stay to talk with police.

“We want to have a safe place for our community to shop, she said. "And there are a lot of small businesses here — we want to make sure it’s safe for them, as well. “

When news breaks, it can be easy to rely on officials and people in power to get information fast. As KCUR’s general assignment and breaking news reporter, I want to bring you the human faces of the day’s biggest stories. Whether it’s a local shop owner or a worker on the picket line, I want to give you the stories of the real people who are driving change in the Kansas City area. Email me at savannahhawley@kcur.org or follow me on Twitter @savannahhawley.
I partner with communities to uncover the ignored or misrepresented stories by listening and letting communities help identify and shape a narrative. My work brings new voices, sounds, and an authentic sense of place to our coverage of the Kansas City region. My goal is to tell stories on the radio, online, on social media and through face to face conversations that enhance civic dialogue and provide solutions.
KCUR serves the Kansas City region with breaking news and award-winning podcasts.
Your donation helps keep nonprofit journalism free and available for everyone.