Downtown KCK murder doesn’t deter business

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KANSAS CITY, KAN. -- Downtown merchants in Kansas City, Kan., are calling Monday's murder a rarity. They say violent crime has taken a dramatic drop downtown thanks to private security patrols.

Police say someone shot and killed a man Monday near 10th & Minnesota.

People tell FOX 4 News they feel safe in downtown Kansas City, Kan., especially during the day. Property owners credit their downtown improvement district for making the area clean and safe.

But on Monday, at about 5:30 p.m., witnesses reported seeing a man in a car driving west on Minnesota. He crashed into several other vehicles before coming to a stop in front of a Mexican products store. According to police the driver had been shot, and died behind the wheel. And witnesses reported seeing another vehicle speed out of the area.

The time of this shooting is important, because it happened after 5 p.m., when most businesses downtown close. It's also when private security patrols provided by the downtown improvement district typically end. Some wonder if this crime would have happened here, had their been those private security officers walking the streets.

"I don't know if it would or would not happen," said Ed Linnebur, director of Downtown Shareholders. "It's just an act of somebody driving through our downtown. It could have happened anywhere. I think that's the part we're starting to see more and more of. Just because it happened in KCK doesn't mean that it is about the people who work and live down here. It's an important statement to say we're actually trying to move together forward in our downtown."

Linnebur says his group is working to extend business hours downtown. That would mean extending private security patrols that have helped reduce police calls. With more eyes and ears on downtown streets after 5 p.m., it's less likely criminals will pull out guns and start shooting.

The area of 10th and Minnesota is also the area where city leaders are trying to establish a healthy campus: with a grocery store, YMCA and more housing. More people living near downtown will mean more demand for services after 5 p.m. And more potential witnesses to convince criminals to move elsewhere.

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