Kansas City celebration turns to scene of chaos

Connie Queline

Kansas City celebration turns to scene of chaos

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On Wednesday afternoon, Kansas City’s downtown streets had become a sea of red – hundreds of thousands of Kansas City Chiefs’ fans gathered to celebrate their team’s second consecutive Super Bowl victory.

This moment, filled with speeches from players and moments of zany fun, was supposed to cement the Chiefs as a sports dynasty.

But just as the parade was winding down in the early afternoon, gunshots suddenly rang out. Celebrations and cheers quickly turned into a frantic scene of horror, screaming and confusion.

People sprinted away from the pops of gunfire across confetti-strewn streets, as the sunny winter day was suddenly consumed by chaos.

A mass shooting near the city’s Union Station left one woman dead and 21 others injured, including multiple children. Many more were hurt in the sudden stampede that followed the unexpected crackle of gunfire.

Footage of the scene showed the shock and fear of Kansas City fans. Many said they were initially unsure what the threat was and where it was coming from.

Screams follow the sound of loud bangs in a local TV station clip reviewed by the BBC. “Guys, guys, guys, something’s going on,” the anchor, from CBS-affiliate KCTV, says upon hearing the shots. “Something is going on.”

Other eyewitnesses described their confusion and said they thought they had heard the sound of “fireworks”, as some Kansas City players remained on the stage.

“It sounded like a ton of very rapid succession, very quick shots,” John O’Connor told the Kansas City Star.

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People then took off running around him, he said, though no one seemed sure where to go. In some reports, witnesses describe hordes of people taking off in one direction, only to suddenly turn around and run the opposite way.

Several inside Union Station described similarly disturbing moments of uncertainty. Witnesses said they were unsure if the shots were coming from inside or outside the building.

“I’m pretty sure I heard shots in Union Station. They might’ve been a little bit outside, I’m not sure, though,” Kansas high school student Gabe Wallace told the Kansas City Star. “The security guard was like, ‘Get over the damn fence right now, there’s a shooter.'”

A large police presence quickly descended upon the station, as more than 800 law enforcement officers had been on duty for the event. Some video posted to social media showed officers charging through crowds as onlookers ran for cover.

Law enforcement responds to a shooting at Union Station during the Kansas City Chiefs Super Bowl LVIII victory parade on February 14, 2024 in Kansas City, Missouri

Getty Images

Kansas City Police Chief Stacey Graves applauded her officers for their swift action, but she declined to provide information about the three suspects arrested or any potential motive for the shooting.

“There’s a lot of work ahead,” she said of the investigation. “We are moving as fast as we can.”

A law enforcement source told CBS News, the BBC’s US partner, however, that the shooting appeared to stem from a disagreement. The source emphasised that it was not linked to terrorism.

The shooting was a devastating end to the Chiefs’ fairy-tale like season. Despite winning the Super Bowl last year, they lost many key players and struggled early on.

They eventually found their rhythm, perhaps with the help of pop star Taylor Swift – whose relationship with Chiefs’ tight-end Travis Kelce became a much-watched cultural phenomenon.

Mr Kelce, who remained quiet most of the night, finally posted on X, formerly Twitter, that he was “heartbroken over the tragedy that took place today”.

“My heart is with all who came out to celebrate with us and have been affected,” he added. “KC, you mean the world to me.”

But for this lesser-known American city, this was another painful day in its struggle to contend with a rising number of homicides – 182 murders last year, breaking the previous record set in 2020.

Speaking on Wednesday afternoon, Kansas City mayor Quinton Lucas, who had attended the rally with his wife, said he and his family had become “part of a statistic”.

“Today was tragic for everyone who was part of it,” he said. “We never would have thought that we, along with Chiefs players, along with fans, hundreds of thousands of people, would be forced to run for our safety today.”

Related Topics

  • US gun violence
  • Gun crime
  • United States

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