Police recover stolen BBQ pit while dodging gunfire on city’s east side

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A wild scene on Kansas City's east side left police officers taking cover.

A spray of gunfire near 25th and Benton Avenue caught officers by surprise, as they responded to a call concerning stolen barbecue equipment. Police recovered a huge meat smoker that belongs to the American Royal Barbecue and, according to barbecue festival leaders, is valued at roughly $20,000.

Kansas City Police Capt. Lionel Colon said officers were called to that east Kansas City neighborhood around 1:30 p.m. Wednesday. He said it was an anonymous call to the Crimestoppers Tips Hotline that informed them the stolen barbecue pit was there. It had been reported stolen last week.

Colon said while responding officers waited for the smoker's owners to arrive, gunshots rang out in the neighborhood, and police were concerned they were being targeted. Police responded by shutting down several streets in the area of 25th and Benton. Officers were able to match the description of the recovered grill with the one reported stolen from the American Royal.

"Today is a great day," sai dLynn Parman, American Royal President.

On Wednesday afternoon, staff members from the American Royal gathered around the big smoker, which sat on a flatbed trailer outside their offices in Kansas City's West Bottoms. Barbecue festival leaders praised police detectives for their work in recovering the pit, which is large enough to prepare 100 racks of ribs at once.

"We really rely on this smoker for so many of our events," Parman said. "We have the world's largest barbeque rubs contest, which will happen at the end of the month. We'll be able to cook the 200 pounds of pork loin and people competing in the rubs event from all over the country. So now, we'll be able to continue with that.".

Ed Maurin, a pitmaster from Kansas City, donated the smoker to the Royal five years ago. He said he's excited that it's been recovered, and he's anxious to see it on Thursday morning.

"It's become really important to our organization. When it was missing, and then, we found out, stolen, it was a really difficult situation, so we are really happy today," Parman told FOX4.

No one was injured when the shooting took place at 25th and Benton. Colon said no one was arrested either.