Grandmother of 1-year-old shot outside Little Caesars remembers her ‘bright shining star’

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Police are calling the shooting death of a one-year-old in the parking lot of Little Caesars on State Avenue an accident.

Several reported accidents have left two children shot in the Kansas City metro in the past three days, and the third in a week and a half.

Police said the little boy and his mother were sitting in the car as a man with them was in the pizza place picking up a pie. The one year old somehow got a hold of a gun that was in the car and ended up dead.

“A very bright shining star that touched a lot of lives” is how Antoine Rucker, Jr.'s grandmother Cherilyn Thomas describes the little boy. "A lot of smiles, a lot of energy. Gone too soon.”

Pictures of Antoine, or A.J. as his family calls him, show a little boy with a big personality. A joy to his family, A.J. was just learning how to talk and loved the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Mickey Mouse.

"When the show came on, he would pull his Mickey Mouse chair that I bought and he would sit for about 5 seconds and watch TV, and then he is up and on," said Thomas as she smiled and laughed remembering her grandson.

The smile on Cherilyn Thomas's face fades to tears as she recalls the phone call she got Friday night telling her to get to Children’s Mercy hospital quickly. A.J. had been shot.

“When I got to Children's Mercy, he was still alive and he passed away when we were there," Thomas said. “I don’t want to talk about that.”


The family is asking for prayers and is clearly still trying to figure out how to deal with this tragedy.

If you want to help this family, they have set up a GoFundMe page to help with funeral expenses.

There will be a balloon release and vigil for A.J. in the parking lot of the Little Caesars on State Avenue Tuesday at 5:30 p.m.



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