KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Many Kansas City, Missouri, families will not get the chance to ring in 2021 with loved ones, but it's not by choice after the city recorded a record-shattering 174 homicides through Dec. 30 in KCMO.
Those victims were remembered Thursday during a ceremony at the Justice and Dignity Center, where some community and religious leaders gathered for a candlelight vigil.
The names of all 174 homicide victims, including 4-year-old LeGend Taliferro and 16-year-old Anthony Strassle, were read during the vigil.
"(Anthony) was an amazing kid," his mother, Chrisana Strassle, said. "He would brighten the whole room like he was the light of everything. He was my world."
Chrisana's world was turned upside down Sept. 16 when someone killed Anthony. No arrests have been made yet in the case, but Chrisana is hopeful that will change in the new year.
"I hope our luck is going to be better and I hope they make an arrest and I get justice for my son," she said.
Many families are in the same boat as the Strassles in 2020 with a homicide clearance rate just above 50% for those killings.
Community leaders at Thursday's vigil called for a less deadly year in 2021.
"We have senseless violence that is going on and it’s not being address from the standpoint of an action plan," Beyond Four Walls Church Pastor Devan Taylor said.
Part of the plan, according to Taylor, should be a call for deescalation from both police and those on the streets to prevent more crime in KCMO.
"This plan here is a stay course that shows them how to address and how to approach and how to actually safely and most effectively serve the streets and the cities of color in America and Kansas City," he said.
Meanwhile, the community mourns.
"So many negative feelings is causing us to lose loved ones, and this should not be occurring," Cynthia Morris, who attended the Day of Remembrance event, said.
Those at the vigil hope a new year brings closure to grief-stricken families and that no one has to hold a similar event at the end of 2021.
"Hold you kids tight because losing one is not something I wish on anybody," Chrisana said.
Taylor is holding out hope for 2021.
"Right now, it’s dark days, but better days are coming," he said.