KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The community was shocked when a person was shot and killed right outside Kansas City Police Headquarters early Monday morning.
“Who would ever imagine that someone would be killed in front of the police station where everyone supposed to be protected,” Pastor Timothy Hayes said.
But Wednesday the victim’s family held a press conference to announce they believe the killing was a hate crime. The victim has been identified as 28-year-old Deangelo Wallace, a Black gay man.
At one point Wallace was known across America for his voice, or perhaps lack thereof. Wallace appeared on the FOX singing competition “X-Factor” in 2012 and had several memorable exchanges with judges, including Britney Spears and Demi Lovato, in his Kansas City audition.
“I could be a good pop star. I know I’m better than Justin Bieber,” Wallace told them.
But when the judges left the table during his off-key audition, he took off with the microphone.
Now his family is trying to give him and other victims a voice in their calls for justice. His sister shared a much better rendition of “Happy Birthday” he sang to her, saying her brother could sing and just aimed to entertain.
But as a gay man who had been in and out of shelters and would take the bus to and from work at 12th and Locust, she said he faced challenges.
“I’ve been on phone calls several times where he’s been threatened here in Kansas City. He’s been told that if they see him downtown, he’ll be killed,” Shauntice Wallace said.
“He said he was targeted coming down here in the downtown area. The homeless people were throwing rocks at my son,” his mother Karen Wallace said.
Wallace was killed at 12th and Locust in the area between City Hall, the courthouse and Kansas City Police Headquarters at 12:30 a.m. Monday, July 5.
“Just coming out of Pride Month, who would ever think that something like this would happen on the front steps of our police department?” Hayes said.
The family believes it’s a hate crime, but at this point, police said there’s no indication it was. Police said the deadly shooting simply stemmed from an argument.
“Them making this gut reaction and saying this case is said and done — if the family here is saying it’s a hate crime, if the action leading up to it is a hate crime, there just needs to be a better set of eyes,” said Justice Horn, LGBTQ Commission vice chair.
Police took a suspect into custody but have since released the individual, turning the case over to prosecutors.
“I just want his killer to be charged. I want justice for my brother, and I want to shed light on the LGBT community because they are targeted every day,” Shauntice Wallace said.