Beloved local comic book fixture killed in robbery; 911 caller left on hold while he lay dying

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A local comic book fixture was killed Friday as he tried to stop a robbery. Now police need the public's help to track down the villain.

FOX 4's Dave D'Marko went to Clint's Comics near 39th and Main Street to see how Jim Cavanaugh is being remembered.

Clint's Comics just celebrated its 50th anniversary here in Kansas City last weekend, so his death is making a big impact. People were dropping off flowers at front of the store.

Police said someone robbed the comic book store a little before 1 p.m. Friday.

Store owner Jim Cavanaugh ran out the back after the thief and witnesses said he confronted the person as they got into their car.

Police said the robber had their car door open as they tried to sped speed away and knocked Cavanaugh to the ground causing him to hit his head on the pavement.

Illustrator Rick Stasi recalled what a generous person Cavanaugh was.

"He stopped them and said 'make a better choice. There's always an opportunity to say 'I don't want to cause problems over comic books, for God's sakes!'' and Jim was such a generous person, the stories over the years. If you wanted comic books he'd give them to you," Stasi said.

FOX 4 was actually out at the store last weekend for free Comic Book Day giveaway that friends said was one of Cavanaugh's favorite days of the year, bringing new people into the comic book craze.

"The way you could tell you have a successful store when a six year old comes in and says 'woah!'" Cavanaugh told FOX 4 in an interview six days before his death.

One of the most tragic parts of this story is the question of whether more could have been done to save Cavanaugh's life.

The Blind Tiger, a neighboring business, wrote in a Facebook post that they called 911 and were left on hold for 17 minutes trying to get through to the dispatcher.

“We heard the guy who owns the comic book store come running out saying I’ve been robbed and he chased after one of the guys," Danny Pasternack said.

Video shows what appears to be a white hatchback speeding away from behind the store near 39th and Main.

What it doesn’t show is the desperation of the Pasternack and others who just happened to be throwing something in the dumpster at the time Cavanaugh was struck and lay bleeding on the ground.

“The guy threw it in reverse and just jammed on the gas clipped him and just threw him back on his head,” Pasternack said.

Pasternack called 911, but says he was put on hold by the automated system before he could tell anyone what happened. Minute after minute went by.

“I think everyone was just kind of panicking people were running around hoping that we could get through to 911,” he said.

Finally, one of the men drove to the closest fire station and banged on the door.

Witnesses said 17 minutes after they first called, still on hold with 911, an ambulance arrived. Cavanaugh didn’t survive.

Police are still searching for that robber who sped away causing his death. Meanwhile, witnesses are left searching for answers as to why their pleas for help weren't answered.

"It’s extremely frustrating you feel completely helpless. Everybody is kind of shock in that situation and you are not really thinking straight you are hoping someone from paramedics or police can be there or at least be on phone to talk you through to know what to do, but we just couldn’t get through," Pasternack said.

A Kansas City Police spokesperson said she’s looking into exactly what happened with that 911 call.

If you have any information on who that driver could be call police.