Families of slain KCK deli owner, customer working to arrange funeral services

Suspects charged with two murder counts
Posted at 5:48 PM, Jul 12, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-12 20:17:44-04

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — The family of a slain deli owner in Kansas City, Kansas, plans to let the whole community say goodbye.

Dennis Edwards, owner of Edwards Original Corner Market and Deli at 81 N Mill Street, cherished so many folks in the neighborhood and that love can be seen as a memorial keeps growing outside his deli.

On Friday, his family experienced some tough moments.

"We got to see his body today and it answered some questions, but it took a whole lot," Edwards niece, Christina Smith, said. "There’s hundreds of questions now. It’s why? Why did he do that to him?"

While the motive for Wednesday's deadly shooting inside the deli remains unclear, what is certain is the pain Edwards' family feels as they and the community grieve.

"We do understand that he didn’t have that impact only on us, he loved everybody," Smith said.

Edwards' family plans to make his visitation and funeral service open to the public.

"We know that closure is very important, and we need that closure, so we understand that as our small family is that all these hundreds of people need to have this closure too," Smith said.

It's those hundreds who turned out Thursday night at a vigil to remember Edwards and Lachell Day.

"They’re just as heartbroken as we are," Smith said.

Day's family said they knew the gunman.

The suspect, who also was shot Wednesday and is out of hospital, remains behind bars at the Wyandotte County Jail.

Late Friday, Wyandotte County District Attorney Mark DuPree charged Jermelle Byers with first-degree murder in the death of Edwards, second-degree murder in the death of Day, aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer and aggravated assault.

Byers exchanged gunfire with arriving officers, who were called to an armed disturbance at the deli, leading to a two-hour standoff.

41 Action News has learned Byers is no stranger to law enforcement.

According to court records, Byers, 39, is a convicted felon, recently finished parole stemming from 2016 aggravated assault in which he used a weapon.

"I can tell you now that I hope that nobody ever has to deal with that monster again in their life," Smith said. "He is a monster. What he did to my uncle was disgusting absolutely disgusting."

The Edwards family has vowed to be at every court hearing.

"We’ll be holding my uncle’s pictures right there," Smith said. "We want him to know what he has done. We want him to know what he has done to his grandchildren, to his daughter and we’re going to make sure that we get justice."

Larkin and Garcia Funeral Care is handling funeral arrangements. The family has set up a GoFundMe to help with expenses.

According to Smith, the funeral home is working to find a community center in KCK that's big enough to host the services. Once finalized, plans will be posted on the funeral home's website.