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'I can’t understand why': Best friend of three shooting victims reflects on years of friendship

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Posted at 6:43 PM, Oct 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-03 23:00:38-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo — Friends and family are mourning the loss of three victims following Saturday’s shooting at 28th and Spruce. The Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department identified the victims on Sunday as 24-year-old Kanen X. Wheaton, 23-year-old Johnnai Owens and 24-year-old Devon Key.

“This happened on my birthday,” Jaron Greathouse said. “To this moment, I still don’t believe that it's true. It still hasn’t hit home yet.”

Greathouse says his long-time friends Wheaton, Owens and Key were planning a surprise birthday party for him and another friend. His friends were in a car with a fourth member of their group when shots came through the vehicle killing three of them ahead of the event.

“We’d sit in the car and just talk about senseless violence, and um, we always made it a promise that we wouldn’t be a part of that — that we wouldn’t be one of those numbers,” Greathouse said.

He was especially close with Key who was also his roommate.

“We went from working in Burger King kitchens to earning degrees and making a life for our families,” Greathouse said.

KCPD is urging the public to come forward with any suspect information. Greathouse says he cannot think of anyone who would want to hurt his friends.

“To my fullest, to my mental capacity, I can’t understand why,” Greathouse said. “We can’t say that Black lives matter until we value each other's lives.”

Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas took to Twitter on Saturday expressing his condolences.

“As somebody who has lived across the street, down the street, on the corner where there were folks killed, it hurts,” Lucas tweeted.

Lucas hopes to see more responsible gun laws enacted by the state. He attributed some of the root causes to drug use, relational violence and people who commit repeated violent offenses.

“We need to work with probation and parole. We need to make sure that those folks aren’t getting back out on the streets to terrorize our communities,” Lucas said.

He says it starts with creating opportunities in violence-prone areas. He also wants to see the existing public safety partnership generate more solutions.

“It’s at City Hall with the police chief, the mayor, prosecutor, community leaders, someone who has been incarcerated herself,” Lucas said. “I’d like to see us center that program where more of our solutions can come from.”