National News

Independence police investigating homicide near gas station

Posted June 24, 2018 5:37 p.m. EDT

— The Independence Police Department is investigating a homicide that happened near a gas station on Saturday afternoon.

The fatal shooting happened near the FavTrip at 10507 E. 23rd St. just before 2 p.m.

When officers arrived, they found a man who had died in the parking lot of a business. On Sunday, that man was identified as 24-year-old Cahoone N. Littlejohn from Independence.

A suspect was taken into custody at the scene. Officers found a weapon nearby.

The police said both the suspect and victim were involved in a disturbance with each other.

There were several people near the parking lot who saw that disturbance. There are also two busy parks on either side of the intersection.

Witnesses said the two men were in some kind of fight that then escalated into gunfire.

"We're very fortunate that no other people were involved in the disturbance," said John Syme with the Independence Police Department. "There's a park right behind us here and another park just north of the roadway. So, absolutely."

"We do have a lot of witnesses to this," he said. "That's going to help detectives piece this together because we had a lot of people who saw what went down."

The police had to have the two vehicles the man were driving towed away.

Police said that they are reviewing surveillance video from the gas station and that the investigation is ongoing.

On Sunday, the investigation was still ongoing.

Babir Sultan, one of the gas station's co-owners, said his biggest concern is the customers. He said a lot of the customers were confused and worried the morning after the shooting.

"We care for them, obviously, as well," he said. "It is sad to see them with the confusion, as well. Nobody in the store got shot, luckily, and I wish that person that unfortunately died was here with us today."

"We are getting flooded with emails, Facebook messages," he said. "We are getting different points of views on the story."

He said he has had to clarify the situation.

According to him, the argument started in the gas station's parking lot and escalated over to the laundromat next door, where the shooting happened.

He said this is the first time in 14 years that something like this has happened at his location, but said he has seen it in the area before.

His message was to make sure everyone understands his business was not involved.

He hopes crime in the area stops soon.

"I am curious about what is causing the issue, and how as a business owner we can help or do something about it," he said. "Because, besides being a business owner, I also bring my family to these parks as well."

"We do shoplifting narration videos," he said. "We don't want to have to do videos on people getting shot up over here. That is the last thing we want."

Parents told KCTV5 News that their children shouldn't have to witness violent crimes like this.

For Ronnie Joy, it was meant to be a day of celebration for his family. He said it was his son's fifth birthday.

However, the celebration was nearly interrupted that afternoon.

"As I pulled up, I thought I heard backfiring, but obviously it was something else," he said. "Gunshots."

He said he realized there had been a shooting once he heard police sirens and saw a man's body lying near the gas station.

Several families said that they heard the shots when they were with their children. Many were less than 50 yards away from where the shooting happened.

As for Joy, he had considered having the party at a different park, but it was too crowded. "This was the only one we knew about that still had the water fountain," he said.

He said families deserve to feel safe playing in the park on a sunny day.

"It's not good for anybody," he said. "It's not a good idea for stuff like that to be happening around here."