KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Witnesses reported hearing at least four gunshots fired last week in the parking lot of the Kansas City Zoo, and on Tuesday it was announced that a 16-year-old boy was charged with three criminal counts related to the incident. The teenager has been charged with possession of a handgun, a misdemeanor count of disorderly conduct and a probation violation.
He is still in custody of the Office of the Juvenile Officer of Jackson County, which charged him with the offenses on March 19, a day after the incident. Police said that no injuries were reported, but as many 10 people were originally arrested in the midst of the commotion. The charges announced Tuesday are the only set of charges to be filed against anyone related to this incident to date.
The shooting happened just before 4 p.m. at about the time the zoo was closing on a free admission day. Close to 19,000 people were streaming through the exits when a large fight broke out between two groups of people.
“The pathways got full. We had a little pushing and shoving inside,” said KC Zoo Director Randy Wistoff. “The police asked some people to move outside and we had some issues out in our parking lot.”
The majority of the crowd was made up of kids that ranged from elementary school ages up to high school, and many were there without parents. Police used pepper spray to subdue the crowds.
“When they started fighting, police pepper sprayed in the air and kids was choking and what not,” said 18-year-old Breonna Henry. “We don’t need no more free days, everybody needs to pay their amount to get in.”
Wistoff said the zoo is reexamining operations to ensure an incident like this isn’t repeated. Because the accused is a juvenile, he will not be identified. His formal arraignment is set for April 10.