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Olathe man wrongly accused in Chiefs parade shooting wants his life back — and an apology

From left,Stephanie Fairweather (Denton Loudermill Jr.'s sister); Denton Loudermill Jr.; Reba Paul (also a sister); and LaRonna Lassiter Saunders, Loudermill's legal advocate.
Roxie Hammill
Johnson County Post
From left: Stephanie Fairweather (Denton Loudermill Jr.'s sister); Denton Loudermill Jr.; Reba Paul (also a sister); and LaRonna Lassiter Saunders, Loudermill's legal advocate.

Denton Loudermill Jr. was briefly detained by police for moving too slowly away from the crime scene, but many people on social media — including a Republican Congressman from Tennessee — saw an African American man in handcuffs and falsely claimed he was one of the shooters.

Denton Loudermill, Jr., would like people to know who he is: just a regular Chiefs fan who works at an Olathe car wash, a family guy who would very much like his life to go back to normal.

Not a terrorist. Not an undocumented immigrant. And definitely not one of the shooters who disrupted the end of the Chiefs Super Bowl parade and celebration last week, killing one person and wounding 22 more.

But it may be a while before anything seems normal again to Loudermill and his family.

Ever since pictures of him in handcuffs were posted online falsely accusing him of being one of the shooters, Loudermill’s life has been turned upside down. People sneak looks at him at the car wash, he says.

He spent Monday with family members and legal advocate LaRonna Lassiter Saunders urging news outlets to spread the word that he’d been falsely accused and was now trying to get his life back.

Social media posts claiming Loudermill — pictured sitting on a curb in handcuffs — had anything to do with the shooting were wrong.

Loudermill was detained briefly by police for moving too slowly away from the crime scene, Lassiter Saunders said.

But that didn’t stop people from posting and commenting falsehoods and hate.

One, from Republican Congressman Tim Burchett from Tennessee, said Loudermill was an “illegal alien.”

The day of the Chiefs parade was full of emotion and, later, some bewilderment for Loudermill, 48. He and a sister and brother went down to enjoy a sunny day and celebrate another Chiefs win, he said.

That Valentine’s Day had another special meaning for Loudermill and his family. It was the first anniversary of his father’s death.

“He was really trying to celebrate,” said Reba Paul, his older sister, also from Olathe. “Did he have a few drinks? Probably so, just like everybody else.” But it was a celebration mixed with escape and the memory of his dad, who had also been a big Chiefs fan.

Loudermill said he was unaware of the shooting, but was near the pandemonium when people started running. In the chaos, he lost track of his sister and brother.

Police were trying to clear people out, putting up tape, he said.

“I was trying to walk toward the tape, but I wasn’t running like everybody else.”

It was then that police grabbed him, cuffed him and detained him, for not moving fast enough away from the scene, he said.

'They’ve got the wrong guy'

Tennessee Rep. Tim Burchett erroneously called Denton Loudermill Jr. an "illegal alien" in a post on X, formerly Twitter.
Tennessee Rep. Tim Burchett erroneously called Denton Loudermill Jr. an "illegal alien" in a post on X, formerly Twitter.

Loudermill said he is still processing what happened, from enjoying the parade to sitting in handcuffs.

Meanwhile his older sister, Reba Paul, who was not at the parade, was beginning to get alarming phone calls. She had been talking to Loudermill when the call dropped, she said. Not too long afterwards, she began to get a barrage of texts and calls from people who said they saw her brother on the news and wondered if she needed any help.

“Every single person said, that’s not him,” she said. “I knew he didn’t do it. I know him and I know his character, and I know that’s not anything he would ever do in his life.”

Loudermill, sitting on the curb, still wasn’t really aware of what had caused the panic or why he was being held, he said. He didn’t attach any significance to the people who were beginning to take his picture and shout at him, he said.

After police did a little fact finding and realized Loudermill was uninvolved, they let him go — but not in front of the people watching, Lassiter Saunders said. Instead they walked him away from the crowd to take off the cuffs.

Loudermill then went to pick up something to eat and head home. He said he doesn’t spend a lot of time online and didn’t learn what was being said about him until later.

When he did begin to hear about it, he said his reaction was, “Just wow, they don’t really know who I am. They’ve got the wrong guy.”

“I’m a good young man. I’ve got three daughters and I love them a lot. I’m a family person, close to all my family,” he said. “Other than that, I try not to get myself into any trouble or anything like that. I was just out there trying to enjoy myself and enjoy the parade.”

Misinformation and racism

But the damage had been done.

The crowd saw an African-American man in handcuffs being walked by police. They didn’t see him being let go. Incorrect assumptions were made.

Commenters said they wished he’d been resisting arrest, or that they’d like to see him shot and dragged down the street, he said.

One of the most widely shared posts was Burchett’s, who has since deleted it and issued a correction on X, formerly Twitter, blaming “incorrect news reports.”

Lassiter Saunders would like him to do more.

“You need to do a public apology,” she said of Burchett. “The American people trust you. They need to trust your word. You need to be more responsible.”

Burchett’s press aide was unavailable for comment Monday night.

The whole incident was dismaying, but is a chance for Americans to examine their thoughts on diversity and take more responsibility for what they post or repost online, Lassiter Saunders said.

“In my opinion the fact that he was detained and in handcuffs is a narrative that we see with African-American men, and I believe that is why it was so easy to spread,” she said, adding that if he’d been a different race, people might have questioned it more.

Paul was also frustrated that some people would not remove or correct their posts about her little brother.

“People just want to ride the lie,” she said.

Lassiter Saunders said her first priority is getting Loudermill’s name cleared and making sure his family is safe.

“A lot of things went wrong that day, and unfortunately he was the one who had to suffer,” she said.

Legal action is still a possibility, but not at the top of her list right now, although “Tim Burchett is making that exploration easier,” she said.

“Everybody who is an American owes Mr. Denton an apology. Anybody who hit send on their phone owes Mr. Denton an apology,” she said. “They can apologize by sending the truth.”

As for the people who will be charged with the shooting, Loudermill said, “I just wish they would get their life together if they did have something to do with it. I’ll pray for them.”

A GoFundMe has been set up to help Loudermill clear his name.

This story was originally published by the Johnson County Post.

Roxie Hammill is a freelance journalist in Kansas City. Contact her at roxieham@gmail.com.
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