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2 years after murder of Kansas City toddler, law enforcement asks for help

Tyron Payton and his mom
Posted at 11:21 AM, Sep 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-21 16:34:58-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Two years after 22-month-old Tyron Payton from Kansas City, Missouri, was fatally shot while inside a vehicle, the Kansas City Police Department is seeking the public's help.

Wednesday morning, the toddler's mother, Juhna Payton, appeared at a press conference alongside her daughter, Aariyana Payton, and KCPD Sgt. Mark Slater. Both the victim's family and the police department urged anyone with information to call the KC Crime Stoppers hotline.

Since the case was opened, Slater said the police have received very few leads.

At the press conference, Juhna Payton maintains her belief that the suspect was a complete stranger. She said she's unsure if it was a random act of violence or whether the shooter mistook the family for someone else.

She speculated whether the previous driver of the rental car had been involved in some sort of trouble. The family had just rented a car and were planning on going fishing when the perpetrator followed the family from the gas station to outside their East 33rd Street home.

Once they parked, Juhna Payton said the man ran up and began shooting. The toddler's mother and father were both shot trying to protect the child. Juhna Payton was shot six times.

She said she realized her son was dead right away.

Despite the lack of helpful tips in the case, Juhna Payton said she will continue to seek justice.

"You took my heart away from me. I'm not gonna let you take my soul," she said. "Every day, I'm not gonna give up. If I give up, they're gonna give up."

Slater is confident there are people in the community who are withholding information from the police. The shooting occurred at 3 p.m. in a "relatively crowded area," Slater said.

"People know about this," he said. "They know who's responsible."

Slater would not address any specific leads the department did have and whether or not he believed it was targeted. He would also not comment on a tweet made by KCPD in Nov. 2020, searching for a man who they believed at the time had information about the homicide.

Juhna Payton said the death of her son was a symptom of a larger gun violence issue. Though her home is located in a high-crime area, she said, there are multiple people in the city with stories like hers.

"[I] can barely make enough to go live in Overland Park, or where they have enough security or police," she said. "We have a real problem, and the problem is our kids are dying before we get to retire."

A former corrections and parole officer and current truancy officer, Juhna Payton said not knowing who murdered her son is difficult to bear.

"Am I looking at the person who killed my son? Am I working with this person?" she said.

Slater said it was "very frustrating" that so little information has come forward, and his officers continue to work diligently.

"We need the community's help to solve this case," he said.

Anyone with any information about the murder of Tyron Payton on Sept. 21, 2020 on East 33rd Street is urged by KCPD contact KC Crime Stoppers via its website or by calling (816) 474-TIPS (8477).