KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Every Fourth of July the sound of fireworks mixes with that of gunshots in Kansas City.
During the holiday last year, 175 rounds were fired in a 3.5 square mile area in the urban core, according to KCPD's ShotSpotter technology.
The bullets fired don't disappear into the sky; they come back down, with devastating consequences.
"The bullet that took Blair's life traveled three football fields through a wooded area, striking her in the neck," Michele Shanahan DeMoss said, talking about her 11-year-old daughter.
Blair Shanahan Lane died in 2011 as a result of celebratory gunfire on Independence Day.
For the fourth year, her mother is teaming up with KCPD to hit the pavement and prevent more deaths.
DeMoss, her husband, KCPD officers and social workers went door-to-door Monday afternoon to warn people of the dangers of firing rounds into the sky.
"This is a bullet from the roof of a house not too far from here," Sgt. Jake Becchina, who was holding a fragment of metal, told one resident on Wabash Avenue.
The group is targeted in its approach. They visit areas where ShotSpotter detected rounds fired the previous year.
At each house he approached, Becchina shared three key points with the person inside:
- Do not fire a gun in celebration of the holiday.
- If you see someone fire a gun, report it.
- If you know someone planning to fire, try to stop it from happening.
"Any of those three things could have saved Blair's life and could save the life of someone you care about," Becchina said.
The problem is so severe that this Thursday, KCPD officers will wear Kevlar helmets purchased by the Police Foundation of Kansas City to protect themselves from bullets raining down.
The seriousness of the situation came as no surprise to the people who answered their doors Monday.
Bobby Rice pointed out a bullethole in the window of her mother's home near 40th and Wabash.
"It's a problem for anyone, because they go up, they gotta come down. They could have anybody's name on them, same as what happened to this baby," she said, referring to Blair.
Although Becchina is frustrated the dangerous practice continues, he says the door-knocking is making a dent.
"We're going where we know there was gunfire last year, and we have so far curbed it so there has not been repeat gunfire on the blocks where we actually talked to people," Becchina said.
The hope of saving lives in honor of her daughteris what keeps DeMoss going, she said.
"I used to say I would walk to the airport and back without shoes on for her. I said that to her," DeMoss said, "I would do more now to make sure another family, another child's life does not have to be taken this way."
The group knocked on doors for about five hours Monday evening and plans to go out again Tuesday afternoon.