‘Ducking from gunfire:’ Line of food trucks blocked bullets during First Friday shooting

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A line of food trucks became a barrier between innocent bystanders and gunfire Friday night.

Some of the owners of those food trucks even had to dive for cover as the bullets flew.

“Ducking from gunfire is something I thought I’d never have to do,” witness Alicia Wickam said.

Wickam and Seth Insalman own a food truck called “The Melt.” They park it near 18th and Main every First Friday, but this last one was different.

They were three trucks down from where Erin Langhofer was enjoying a night out with her boyfriend and friends when a fight broke out between young men.

“He was just from here to here after they finished fighting,” Wickam said. “And I’m like, ‘He’s got a gun. He’s got a gun.’ And so we’re all getting down and then we see him take off. So we’re like, ‘OK good.'”

But it wasn’t over.

Minutes later that man, who police identified as 18-year-old Deon’te Copkney came back. Police said he fired nine shots into a crowd. A stray bullet hit Langhofer in the head.

“And everyone’s running,” Wickam said. “People are jumping over the truck hiding behind all the food trucks and people scrambling.”

“I started tearing up a little bit because I couldn’t even imagine losing a girlfriend or daughter. You didn’t know what it was at that point, but he was on the ground with his head in his hands,” Insalman said.

“I mean you just can’t get that out of your head,” Wickam said, tearing up. “And like seeing her boyfriend. It was so sad because he’s so — it all happened so fast to him, too. In one second his girlfriend is on the ground.”

At just 25 years old, Langhofer lost her life.

“I just feel so sorry for that family,” Wickam said. “I feel so sorry for whoever witnessed it because they’re going though the same thing, and it’s something that never should have happened.”

While heartbroken for the family, they hope it doesn’t put a halt to future First Fridays.

“You can’t live in fear,” Wickam said. “Like you just have to keep living life. You just have to keep having fun. You just have to keep building up your city and not let the negative take over.”

These two truck owners said they’ll continue to serve food at First Friday events. But they and other owners believe a curfew would help with both crowd control and safety on First Fridays.

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