OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — Its been less than 48 hours since his younger daughter, Erin Langhofer, was standing in line at a food truck at a First Friday event at the Crossroads. Kansas City police say she was hit by a stray bullet.
“Who thinks their daughter’s going to be murdered?” Tom Langhofer asked from the front yard of his Overland Park home. “We called her smiley when she was little because she always smiled. And she had a smile from ear to ear.”
Erin was known for her smile. She was also known for her compassion.
“From an early age, she liked to help people,” Tom continued. “She was always helping the underdog.”
Erin swam for Blue Valley Northwest High School. She was voted Sweetheart Queen. She attended the University of Kansas.
“She received he Margo award at KU,” her father said proudly, “for the top undergraduate in the social welfare program. She was a 4.0 student all throughout college.” Tom paused and smiled ruefully. “I think she got one B, and she was really pissed about that.”
From there, she got a job as a domestic violence counselor and therapist at Rose Brooks Center. “She was passionate about it,” said Tom. “She had just gotten a promotion.”
And with that smile, she was known for always standing out in a crowd. Her Uncle Steve Langhofer remembered “I don`t think there’s anybody who didn’t like her.” With her vivacious personality, there was always a crowd around Erin. Her father Tom agreed. “She didn’t know a stranger. She had a thousand friends.”
Ironically, it was a stranger in a crowd who took her from those friends and family. An 18 year old shot nine bullets into a street full of people at the First Friday event.
Event organizers estimated there were thousands of people at the event over the course of the night, but less than 100 where Erin Langhofer was on 18th street at the time of the shooting.
She was the only one hit. She was the only one killed.
Her uncle Steve was adamant when he said, “Erin must not be defined by this final thing that happened in her physical life. She must be defined by her whole life. Which was a good life.”
Now, her family looks back fondly at her many photos and videos and eagerly shares stories with her friends. But Erin shared something else: she donated her organs. The agency told her family Erin will again help others, as many as 50 strangers, with her donation.
“She was everything you can ask for in a daughter,” Tom said quietly.
The Langhofer family hopes Erin will not be known for how she died, but how she lived.
Her family has also asked any donations be given to the Rose Brooks Center in her name – Erin Langhofer.