INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — An Independence, Missouri Pop Warner cheerleading team spent its Fourth of July selling fireworks for their fundraiser. But organizers say a man walked off with hundreds of dollars in fireworks Monday afternoon.

This isn’t the first time the Independence Pop Warner Cheer fireworks tent has been hit, either.

One look at the banners hanging inside their gym is all one needs to understand the team’s success.

“We have five teams this year,” said board member Megan Dykeman. “We have our Patriots, that’ll be their last season, but they are double national champions, which is the first time a team has ever done that.”

It’s made possible for the nonprofit with their annual Independence Day fireworks stand. It’s their biggest fundraiser, where they bring in upwards of $16,000.

“It’s going to things like traveling to nationals for the ones who can’t afford it any other way, or buying fans or equipment for the gym,” Dykeman said. “One day we hope to have [air conditioning in the gym].”

But Monday, Dykeman said a man entered their tent and quickly walked off with $350 in fireworks.

The Independence police were able to take 47-year-old Terry Shields into custody and was charged with one count of municipal charge of stealing.

“Two of us run out there yelling at him, one mom snapping photos, trying to get his attention, and he didn’t care,” Dykeman said. “He threw it in the back of the truck, and then he took off. It’s just heartbreaking watching him steal from kids.”

“In 2019, we were at a different location and had a guy come in, three guys, in the middle of the night, armed, and take off with two of our really big fireworks,” Dykeman said. “It’s heartbreaking to see this happen year after year.”

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