KCPD: Homicide at KC zoo ruled 'accidental'

KCPD point to weapon at Kansas City Zoo Shooting
Posted at 5:17 PM, Aug 09, 2020
and last updated 2022-03-09 11:08:31-05

UPDATE, 1:24 p.m., Aug 12 | The victim in this shooting was identified by KCPD as 19-year-old Jason T. Smith.

UPDATE, 1 p.m., Aug. 10 | Kansas City, Missouri, police said Monday the homicide has been ruled 'accidental."

EARLIER | One person has died after being shot at the Kansas City Zoo.

Police said that Just as the zoo was closing Sunday, four people got into a car parked in a lot next to the tram. Once inside, a gun went off.

"The initial call came from an employee that saw somebody had collapsed in the parking lot and their initial thought was medical event--that happens often out here," Sgt. Jake Becchina, a KCPD spokesperson, said.

The zoo's staff tended to the wounded man while waiting for paramedics, who took him to the hospital where he died.

The man's girlfriend's family described the shooting to 41 Action News as "accidental." However, Becchina said it is too early to determine the cause but that scenario is "entirely possible."

"We don't have any indication one way or the other, for sure on that," Becchina said. "Again, a lot is going to depend on what the people that were in the vehicle say, and what the forensics show."

As investigators collected that evidence in the city's 120th homicide, Josephine Nash, who was attending a birthday park nearby, looked on.

She knows the pain this family is feeling. Nash lost her grandson almost a year ago in another shooting.

“Stop the gun shots, y’all, stop it," she said. "I used to tell my kid when he was coming up, I rather say, ‘There you go running,’ instead of, 'You lay,'. It’s bad.”

Police took statements from the other three people who were in the car with the victim.

Investigators with Operation Legend are assisting KCPD detectives with this case, along with others that have happened this weekend.

Detectives are not looking for any additional suspects.

Kansas City Zoo officials thanked KCPD in a tweet for their "quick responses" to the shooting.

For jurisdictions that utilize the Greater Kansas City Crime Stoppers Tips Hotline, anonymous tips can be made by calling 816-474-TIPS (8477), submitting the tip online or through the free mobile app at

Annual homicide details and data for the Kansas City area are available through the 41 Action News Homicide Tracker, which was launched in 2015.