Metro woman says she has key to ending rising homicide rates in Kansas City

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A metro group says it knows how to stop the cycle of violent crime in Kansas City; it starts with loving those left behind and teaching them how to break the cycle.

When the police lights fade and the sirens stop, when the cameras quit rolling, time still marches on. Lakeisha Chatmon knows this better than anyone.

Her father was murdered when she was a teenager, and as she sits here now as a 26-year-old mother of two, the reality of this violent world has struck again.

Her youngest son, baby Kacyn, was born in June; he was two months early. It’s the only reason he got to meet his dad.

His father, 27-year-old Jerel Price, was gunned down at 35th and Prospect last month, just six weeks after meeting his new baby boy. Price had helped raise Chatmon’s other son, 8-year-old Tristin, since he was in diapers.

“Five and a half years, he enjoyed Tristan and I," she said. "He wanted his babies so bad. He loved his kids so much.”

A group of volunteers met Monday night, in a meeting space donated by KC ArtsTech. Among them, a funeral director, educators, social workers, even law enforcement. There were many different backgrounds represented, but they all shared one laser sharp focus: the kids.

The group calls itself Healing Pathway because that’s what they offer. Monica Roberts is the founder and executive director. She grew up at 35th and Prospect.

“Our lives were not easy. We saw a lot of death. We were surrounded by death," Roberts said. “You see the same families having multiple homicides and multiple issues, and I feel like if we can go in there, we can work on communication. We can work on conflict resolution. We can work on mental health treatment.”

Roberts said she’s tired, like everyone else, of rising homicide rates in Kansas City. For the last seven years, she said she’s put all she’s got into stopping the cycle.

“We’re not the cure to everything. But if we can just reach one child, one family, let them know that they have a complete wrapround service involved, I think we can make a big difference,” Roberts said.

She believes supporting these children now, these “co-victims,” will get them out of the cycle of violence and keep them out.

“It’s amazing because it’s just like support, and they’re here for my kids, and they’re here for me as well," Chatmon said with tears in her eyes.

The group has been self-funded since Roberts founded it seven years back.

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