Families and children who lost their loved ones stand by the door of Tequila KC Bar. A mass shooting took place there in the early morning hours of October 6, 2019. A peace march was organized by Central Avenue Betterment Association president Edgar Galicia to show the families that they are loved in the community.



BY DEBRA DeCOSTER


Since October 6, after 2 men entered Tequila KC Bar in KCK killing 4 people and injuring 5 others, broken hearts have been shattered for all those involved and for Kansas City, Kansas community. Many of those killed had their funeral services last week and were laid to rest.


Also last week, family members and residents had a candle light rally on Central Avenue in Kansas City, Kansas as 200 people held a peaceful walk to remember Alfredo Calderon, Everado Meza, Francisco Garcia-Anaya and Martin Rodriguez-Gonzalez who lost their lives last Sunday morning when two men, Javier Alatorre and Hugo Villanueva-Morales walked into the Tequila KC Bar on 10th and Central Avenue and began shooting.


After the mass shooting on October 6 morning, which took four lives and injured five people, Edgar Galicia, President of the Central Avenue Betterment Association (CABA) organized a peace march to show the families that the community would stand united with them and call an end to the violence.


“We need to keep working, we can not give up. We need to help the police in every investigation and do it for our community. We are here to support everyone, we want to support the families that lost loved ones and make sure they know they are loved,” said Galicia.


Before the peace march began from 13th and Central Avenue to the front of the business, Tequila KC at 10th and Central Avenue, he told the people gathered as darkness surrounded mourners and supporters, “If we walk together we have no boundaries, if we walk together we see no differences, we walk together as a community and we keep on building. Central Avenue is strong, it is thriving, and we will make it even better altogether. Let’s walk together as sisters and brothers and as a community,” said Galicia.


Regina Casares joined the march to remember the four men whose lives were taken too soon, but thankful that her relative, Michael Barajas, who was shot in the shoulder, survived.


“The bullet broke his shoulder and he was hospitalized but he is home now, thank God. This is not the first time that violence has touched our lives, but this is way too much. The gun violence must stop,” she said.


Elena Pina stood beside her goddaughter, Mercedes, who lost her husband Alfredo Calderon in the shooting.


“The gun violence needs to stop! When they use a gun and take someone life, it affects the entire family. Alfredo had two children, they are 4 years old and 7 years old, and we had to try to explain to them why their dad is not here. We told them that he is an angel now,” said Pina.


Alex Molina came out to support a friend that lost a loved one in the shooting. As he held a candle near the door of Tequila KC, he said, “Gun violence has to stop. I feel that no one should have guns in general. If there were no guns there would be no violence like this. Our lawmakers can make a difference, they have the power to make a difference, but they won’t. Everyone needs to put the guns down,” he said.


Commissioner Brian McKiernan, District 2, spoke to the families and neighbors gathered at Tequila KC.


“One of the first things I heard on Sunday morning was ‘well that is to be expected down there’ and I Reject That!”, he shouted. “Four generations of my family have lived within blocks of this spot and I have lived in this neighborhood all of my life. This is a good neighborhood that is full of good people who work hard every single day of their lives to make life better for theirselves, their families and their community.”


Galicia and McKiernan both want people to know that the shooting doesn’t define their neighborhood.


“The reality is that we have been working hard to better the security and safety of our community,” said Edgar Galicia, President of CABA, “We should work together for a better future. We should work together for everything we dream of and we deserve.”


Mayor David Alvey spoke at a press conference last week stating, “This has been confirmed that this was not a random shooting, but apparently related to one of the suspects having been kicked out of the bar just a few hours prior to the shooting. The tragic fact remains that four people were killed and five were wounded. Some children lost their parents, and parents have lost their children and friends lost friends and our city lost good neighbors.”


During the press conference, he addressed the business community along Central Avenue.


“To the business community I offer our continuing commitment to work with you as partners to find ways to make your neighborhoods even more safe. A few years ago, business owners and residents stepped forward to assist our police department in confronting areas with crime. Our police department eagerly engaged with them to deploy strategies to improve that area. We have seen a 14.6 percent reduction in homicides city wide. Central Avenue is a thriving business corridor that serves the needs of our hard-working residents in the area. I ask our residents and business owners if they have any information about the suspect to step forward and contact the Kansas City, Kansas police department,” said Mayor Alvey.


Galicia has been working with the police, business owners and residents on the initiative Project ACT (Addressing Crime Together). He doesn’t want the mass shooting to stop people from working together to keep crime from the area.


“We have been keeping this community safe from crime and keeping crime down, we have been talking to the police department, working in community projects, and making things better but also keeping the community safe for us,” he said.


Commissioner Tom Burroughs, District 2 At-Large, joined the community in the peace walk.


“My heart breaks for the families and for the community. We are good people here but there are those that chose to come into our community and perpetuate their violence,” he said.


According to the Kansas City, Kansas police department website, the crime map has shown over the last month in the Central Avenue area, criminal activity is still happening. There have been reports of robberies, aggravated assault and thefts.


Jonas Vasquez who owns a used car lot around the corner from Tequila KC Bar came out of concern for the victims and their families in the early hours that Sunday morning of the shooting. He told Hispanic News “my car lot Fronteras has been in this neighborhood for nearly 15 years. When I first move here it was a pretty safe of a neighborhood. Over the years we have had issues with crime and shootings.” Vasquez adds, “I appreciates all the things that the city, community leaders and police are doing for this part of the city and keeping it safe. However, Vasquez is concerned with the recent shooting and killing near his business in the last few months. “There was a shooting down the street at 7th Street and Central within last couple of weeks, two died. Then 2 more people died again in a shooting between my business at 10th and Central and Minnesota Avenue. If this continues I may have to start thinking about moving out of this location.”


The two suspects in the mass shooting at Tequila KC are Javier Alatorre and Hugo Villanueva-Morales.


Alatorre was captured on Sunday, October 6 and is charged with four counts of murder in the First Degree and bond is set at $1,000,000.


As of Hispanic News deadline, KCK police are still searching for the second suspect, Hugo Villanueva-Morales, who is considered armed and dangerous. Do not approach if you see him. Call the police at 911 or the TIPS Hotline, (816) 474-8477 (TIPS).


The Kansas City, Kansas police department released a statement regarding the case. “We are seeking any additional witnesses that may have been inside the bar, but left prior to officers’ arrival, to contact Detective Bundy at (913) 573-6052 or Detective Sutton at (913) 573-6056.”