KANSAS CITY, Mo. — An overnight drive-by shooting in the Westside neighborhood damaged property and at least one home.
Security cameras from several homes captured a car rolling along Belleview Avenue off of 21st Street with its headlights off before the occupant(s) inside the vehicle unleash a barrage of bullets.
Several rounds struck Olga Pitenko's home.
"What do you do when you have a bullets inside of your house?" Pitenko said Tuesday afternoon.
One of them pierced the room where her 13-year-old son, Darian Del Pozo, does his schoolwork. He said he considers himself lucky that he wasn't up late finishing homework.
"I just feel upset knowing that I have to clean this," Del Pozo said. "We'll have to, like, fix the wall. We might have to spend some money."
Pitenko, a teacher, and her son moved to the neighborhood six years ago and now are thinking of moving again.
"Most of my students experience that [shootings] every day," Pitenko said. "I talked to them today and explain what happened. And they’re re like, 'Yes, Miss P., it happened with us all the time.'"
Neighbors told 41 Action News the sound of gunshots isn't out of the ordinary, but mostly comes from celebratory gunfire from nearby Observation Park on the weekends and holidays. Drive-by shootings that cause damage are infrequent, they said.
"Everybody in the neighborhood is lucky that nobody got shot," Mike Smith, who operates heavy equipment at a site where new homes are being built, said. "You just, you don't go driving down the street shooting randomly shooting a gun."
The hail of bullets shattered the backhoe Smith operates.
"My dad taught me, you know, don't point a gun at anything you don't mean to kill," Smith said, "and these people haven't got that lesson."
Pitenko has a simple ask to stop the violence.
"I don't know who was targeted it and why they were doing it," Pitenko said. "Can we learn how to solve challenges with conversations and not guns?"
Last month there were 34 incidents of drive-by shootings. Of those, 15 people were injured and three were killed. Most of the victims were under the age of 18.
It's a problem that keeps getting worse.
The crime summary presented to the Board of Police Commissioners during this month's meeting shows a comparison year-after-year in drive-by shootings.
The blue line represents last year, which was higher than the three previous years with 510 incidents. It comes after seeing a decline in 2019 and 2018.
KCPD said they meet weekly to discuss how to cut down on violent shootings, including drive-bys.
One motive they see often is retaliation, and it's a problem they said requires all hands on deck to solve.
"What we try to do is break that cycle," Capt. Dave Jackson, of KCPD's media unit, said. "So whether that means getting services to somebody, getting people picked up or getting people to a different location in order to somehow or another break that cycle."
Jackson said, like Pitenko, he would like to see people stop using guns to settle disputes.