NewsLocal NewsInvestigations


KCPD records detail altercation that left John Bartrom dead, suggest he was looking for drugs

KCPD casefile on John Bartrom
Posted at 5:30 PM, Apr 02, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-03 12:02:04-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Records from the Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department obtained by the KSHB 41 I-Team give a better idea as to why the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office declined to file charges in the deadly shooting of area businessman John Bartrom.

In an interview with police, a man who was arrested claimed Bartrom walked up to his car window looking for drugs at a gas station off E. 63rd Street and Prospect Avenue in early January.

The man also told police he observed Bartrom as "being high."

Police records say the man was fueling up after finishing up delivering food through DoorDash. Surveillance video from the gas station captured his white SUV parked at the pumps "and soon after, shows the victim arrive in his vehicle and park adjacent to it," according to documents obtained by the I-Team.

KSHB 41 is not naming the man who was arrested because he was not charged.

Police records say the man told Bartrom he only had marijuana, but Bartrom responded saying he “needed something hard like coke.”

The man told Bartrom he did not have any and started to drive away when he says Bartrom flashed a large amount of money in the air.

Police records show that’s when the man says he backed up his car and Bartrom asked him to go inside the gas station.

When the man refused, that’s when he says Bartrom “reached both of his arms inside” his vehicle and grabbed the man’s clothes.

The man told detectives he pushed Bartrom off, Bartrom tried to lunge back at him and that’s when the man shot once in Bartrom’s direction and drove off.

The man told police he “was afraid for his safety based on the victim’s demeanor and added he had never seen or interacted with the victim prior to that day.”

Surveillance video referenced in police records gives another perspective. Video appears to show Bartrom get out of his car, walk up to the white SUV, and get what looks like money out of his pocket.

Surveillance video then shows the white SUV beginning to leave the gas station as Bartram counts his money and places it on the ground. That's when the white SUV backs up and then it "pulls off immediately and the victim falls to the ground in pain," according to surveillance video referenced in police records.

In March, Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker announced she would not file charges in the case citing self-defense.

A summary of the case confirms the prosecutor’s office “declined based on self-defense and castle doctrine considerations.”

Nora Schwartz, the sister of Bartrom, issued a statement to KSHB 41 following the release of the case file.

The police report gives us yet another version of what happened the night of our brother's death. The shooter, if claiming self-defense, does not act as if that were the case. He never reported the incident, he did not turn himself in, he hid evidence from the crime in his bedroom. He lied to police when arrested and acted as if he had no interactions with anyone the night of the shooting. If you were an innocent person, why would you take all these steps to hide the crime committed. 

John had no evidence of a drug dealing. John did not have any illegal substances in his body, on his possession, or in his vehicle. He did not carry a weapon and now from the police report, they are stating they couldn't even see the altercation that is being claimed by the shooter. John was heading to the Casino and only a few gallons of gas left in his tank.  John typically carried large amounts of cash and this is not a piece of evidence in the eyes of his family. How can the police state John was aggressive, when they can't see the evidence as fact when closing this case? How can you just take the word of one man, who has already lied, as fact?

The police did very little investigating beyond the statement of the shooter. They basically waited for those who were at the gas station to come forward and when none of them did, they closed the case. They did not actively try to reach out to those at the gas station to interview what they may have witnessed besides the attendant working that evening. The family was left out of any discussion with police beyond the first few days of John's death.

If anyone has any information or witnessed what happened, please come forward. 

Bartom was owner of Jericho Home Improvement company.