Families who’ve lost loved ones to homicide honor KCK mass shooting victims

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Members of an exclusive club rallied for peace at the scene of a mass shooting, which killed four and left five others wounded.

"All of us have lost somebody to a homicide," Ossco Bolton said, who doesn't know any of the Tequila KC Bar victims. "So it either is going to make you get involved harder, or it's going to break you."

Bolton is part of a group that nobody wants to join. Families who've lost loved ones to homicide organized a ride for peace Saturday across the metro area.

Their mission: To spread hope in communities plagued by the despair of death.

For the participants, it's important to show victims' relatives that people care.

"The bloodshed has gotten way out of hand Lord," said a minister leading the group in prayer. "We are asking for peace."
Praying helps ease the pain of their loss.

So does this grassroots campaign to stop the killing that's become all too normal in urban core neighborhoods.

Michelle West just lost her brother, 23-year-old John Wilson, two weeks ago in a senseless shooting near Citadel Drive and Highland Avenue in Kansas City, Missouri.

"The real thing that hurts me is losing people in my generation," West said. "My peers, friends, family, it affects us all as a whole."
The group traveled to homicide locations on both sides of the state line. But perhaps none was more important than the horrible mass shooting that happened in Kansas City, Kan., nearly a week ago.

"There's some hope that people still care," said Bolton, director of POSSE, Peers Organized to Support Student Excellence. "Because when you don't see people show up, you don't see stuff like this, you think, 'Well it's normal.' You think people don't care. We want to show that people do care, so it helps them stay motivated."

The rally for peace got the attention of KCK police, who expressed concerns about traffic safety and street blockages as drivers stopped to look at the group's flyers, and volunteers stood in the roadway to urge others to join them.

Lifelong Wyandotte Countians say they were moved by the group's commitment to change.

"It's not a cultural thing," said Dustin Berger of Kansas City, Kan. "It's not race. They just come and show love for everybody. It doesn't have to mean that a certain race died. It needs to stop no matter. It could hit anybody at any time, of any race. It needs to stop."

Joined together by a common bond of never-ending pain, the riders are driven by a belief that if they can prevent a stranger from joining their club, that's a fitting tribute to the memories of loved ones they hold dear.

So far this year, there have been 170 homicides in both the Kansas and Missouri counties that make up the metro area.

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