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Food truck crew where First Fridays shooting victim was killed reflects on tragedy

The Mad Greek food truck.png
Posted at 3:42 PM, Aug 07, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-07 20:52:04-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Erin Langhofer was shot and killed outside The Mad Greek food truck on Aug. 2, 2019, when someone involved in a nearby fight pulled a gun and opened fire. She was grabbing dinner at the food truck during a First Fridays event in the Crossroads Art District.

As Langhofer's family and friends mourn, the crew who was working at the food truck, mother/daughter owners Whitney Robinson and Deb Tagtalianidis, also have felt a significant impact.

"I mean, pandemonium; we were yelling for anybody to get into the truck, because we didn't know if it was a mass shooting," Robinson said.

Erin was with her boyfriend at the truck along with dozens of others perilously close to the tragedy.

"Our friend's wife was outside (and) started doing chest compression on Erin," Robinson said.

Both women expressed gratitude for the first responders who immediately reached the scene and made sure everyone else was safe.

Off-duty Kansas City, Missouri, police officers were working the event and managed to grab the suspect right after the shots were fired.

"There were firefighters there as well," Robinson said. "I had served one earlier, and he was one of the first people to respond there on top of Erin, trying to save her life. I remember talking to him afterwards. He was just sweating and crying and said, 'I heard the shots and you guys were so nice to me, I wanted to make sure you guys were OK.'"

The shooting and its aftermath have soured The Mad Greek crew on events like First Fridays.

"After everything, it's just too close for comfort for us, and we just feel like we won't be going back," Tagtalianidis said.

Robinson added, "I can't put our people back in that position. The PTSD alone, it's a triggering thing and we won't be going back."

Others have expressed concerns over security at large community events after the First Fridays shooting and several recent mass shootings, including the two in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, that made national headlines last weekend.

"I witnessed this," Robinson said. "It could've been me. It could've been our family members. They were all there that night coming to visit us at the truck. We need to do something."

For now, the Mad Greek crew is doing what they can to support the Langhofer family.

"We plan to attend the services on Saturday," Tagtalianidis said. "We're also going to bring food to the family, but we're also donating food to the service afterward as well. ... We're a family business and we just feel so now connected to Erin's family and just want to do everything that we possibly can to help them and help the family."

Meanwhile, the crew is doing their best to heal and move past the horrific event.

"It's difficult and it will be, and we're trying to heal as much as everyone else is, but we love what we do and we love talking to people and we're going to do it," Tagtalianidis said.

Deon'te Copkney, 18, has been charged with second-degree murder in connection with Langhofer's death.