OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- Last week’s homicide in Overland Park is still sending shock waves through several communities. Not just because of where it happened, but who is accused of committing the crime.
Mike Smith made people laugh on stages across the country, opening for the likes of Kevin Hart and Dave Chappelle. Fellow Kansas City comedian Richard Montano couldn’t believe it last week when he got the news.
“I got the story on my phone and I immediately said to the person who sent it to me, this is a good joke,” Montano said.
But it was no laughing matter. Smith is charged with first degree murder in the shooting death of Anthony Shuster, 28. According to Shuster's family, Shuster was one of Smith's clients at his barber shop.
Smith's biography on his website describes him as “a far cry from the man he used to be.” The bio describes how he spent several years in prison in the late 1990s on drug and robbery charges.
“That’s the worst thing about this situation. Because he had a past, I know a lot of people are probably prejudging my friend right now and that’s not cool,” Montano said.
People in the Kansas City comedy community say Smith used the stage as a platform to fight racism. He performed the night before the shooting and sold T-shirts to support his cause.
“We’ve known him since he was in his late 20s into his early 40s as a guy who has been nothing but a great dad to his two little boys,” said Craig Glazer, owner of Stanford and Sons Comedy Club.
According to Glazer, Smith’s children are the only reason he hadn’t moved to Hollywood where he’s sure he could’ve become a household name.
Right now, his name is merely part of the Johnson County booking log, as he's held on $1 million bond awaiting trial on first degree murder charges.
“It’s just sad to see someone with that kind of talent, a good dad, for this to happen and snap off that kind of talent for likely was just a stupid situation, that we may never know,” Glazer said.
FOX 4 has requested court documents filed by prosecutors who charged Smith that should reveal exactly what they believe happened that day.