KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A 25-year-old bystander was shot and killed when a fight broke out at the monthly First Fridays event held in the Crossroads in Kansas City, Missouri.
The shooting happened around 10 p.m. Friday near several food trucks in the area of East 18th Street and Main Street.
One witness told 41 Action News they heard a few pops and they hit the ground. They said there was chaos and then silence.
In the scuffle, 25-year-old Erin Langhofer of Overland Park was shot in the head. She was not involved in the altercation where the shots were fired.
"I really didn't think something like this could happen during this," one witness told 41 Action News.
First Fridays is a monthly event attended by thousands of people.
Langhofer was identified as the daughter of one of the pastors at the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection.
Res members and friends, please pray for Resurrection Pastor of Recovery Ministries, Tom Langhofer, his wife Marcy and daughter Katheryn. Tom and Marci's daughter, Erin was struck by a stray bullet fired at First Fridays last night in downtown KC.— Adam Hamilton (@RevAdamHamilton) August 3, 2019
The Jackson County Prosecutor announced Saturday afternoon that an 18-year-old male had been charged in connection to the shooting.
Deon'te Copkney was charged with second-degree murder, unlawful use of a weapon and armed criminal action.
The announcement was made at a press conference where County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker, Mayor Quinton Lucas, KCPD Chief Richard Smith, two officers and a family friend of the Langhofers addressed the public about the incident.
Chief Smith said that the two officers at the press conference, identified as Officer Allen and Officer Stubbs, were working the First Fridays event off-duty and happened to be in the same parking lot where the shooting occurred.
The officers said that after the shots were fired, they pursued a few people who were running from the scene. One of the men being pursued was prompted to stop and surrender. He dropped a handgun and kept running, but surrendered shortly after. The whole pursuit lasted about a half a block.
Three males in total were taken into custody.
Copkney was the one who dropped the gun. The 9 mm he dropped matched the shell casings at the scene of the shooting.
The other two males were identified as Copkney's associates.
According to a press release, Copkney told detectives he was the only one who fired during the physical altercation that happened near the food trucks. There is no known reason for the altercation at this time.
Charging documents state that Copkney claimed he shot the firearm into the air and did not intend to hurt anyone. Shots that hit the victim and parked vehicles indicate that was not the case.
Chief Smith said he was proud of the officers for their quick acting, but that this was just another instance of senseless violence that has gripped Kansas City.
He pointed to an incident that happened on July 7 where a woman was riding in the passenger seat of a car when she was shot and killed. Her cousin was killed in an unrelated gun violence incident the next day.
"Our city should not accept this violence," Smith said.
The sentiment was echoed by the other public officials present at the 3 p.m. press conference.
"All of us have had enough of this," Mayor Lucas said.
The violent incident happened on his second day in office.
Lucas said he will not deal with the violent crime anymore.
"I don't want to be in rooms like this," he said about the press conference.
Lucas stressed telling young people that violence is not the answer and letting them know someone cares about them. He also said that plans for his term in office don't matter if there are tragedies like this, and that he plans to focus on Kansas City's violent crime problem.
Chief Smith added that the police department can't combat the violence alone.
"Someone knew that young man had a gun," he said. Smith said someone could have kept that gun from getting to the event or being pulled in the altercation.
As far as he knew, the gun was obtained legally.
A family friend of the Langhofers was also present at the press conference.
"(Erin) was a bright light whose smile lit up a room," the friend read from a statement prepared by the victim's family.
They thanked investigators for quickly making an arrest and first responders for working to save their daughter.
Langhofer was a social worker whose passion was to help victims of domestic violence.
Her employer tweeted about the devastating loss:
"We are devastated and in shock by the news about one of our employees. Erin was a therapist committed to supporting survivors of domestic violence. She will be terribly missed and we are holding her family, friends, and colleagues in our hearts." Susan Miller, CEO
Copkney faces between 23 and 63 years in prison if convicted of all three charges.
Over 80 homicides have happened in Kansas City so far this year.