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'It was horrific': Mother recalls scary moments, gunshots fired near DeLaSalle High School graduation

Karyn Rivera Martinez
Posted at 10:04 PM, May 20, 2024

KANSAS CITY, MO — Celebration turned to chaos Saturday at DeLaSalle's Charter High School graduation.

Karyn Rivera Martinez was at the ceremony to see her son walk across the stage.

She told KSHB 41 her joy quicky turned to panic.

“It was horrific, all the screams and hollering, and I just can't get it out of my head,” Rivera Martinez said.

Rivera Martinez is struggling with the memories of her son's graduation. 

“I was standing up and I was clapping, and right when I’m clapping, I hear this gunshots,” said Rivera Martinez. 

She says she was in shock, but found her son, Darius Martinez.

Rivera Martinez told KSHB 41 her family's happiness was stripped away in seconds.

“It's taken away like that," she said. "Everybody is laughing, having a good time, cheering," Rivera Martinez said. Then on to horrifying screams, it made no sense,” said Rivera Martinez,

We reached out to DeLaSalle High School officials. They said they are unable to provide any further details, but sent KSHB 41 a statement Sunday: “Yesterday, a tragic incident occurred during the high school graduation ceremony at DeLaSalle High School. What began as a beautiful day with over 500 families and guests celebrating our largest graduating class in 20 years was marred by an unforeseen event. Thanks to the outstanding efforts of the DLS security team and the Kansas City Police Department, no physical harm came to any students, families, or staff attending the graduation. Their swift and professional response ensured the safety of everyone present."

The principal of the school expressed her concern about the incident.

"DeLaSalle High School prays for the safety of all of Kansas City, and our thoughts are with the community during this difficult time,” said Erin Wilmore, DeLaSalle High School principal.

Karyn says she is happy her son received a diploma, but she's angry about the memories that will linger.

“It's very sickening and they need to leave them guns alone,” said Rivera Martinez. “I should look at this and be happy and them tears of joy that I have so often not mixed with that anger.”