UMKC program stepping up to help teen who lost dad in shooting after KC protest

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — It’s been a month since a Kansas City man was murdered after a protest near the Plaza.

Now, the University of Missouri-Kansas City is showing support to his son and helping him reach for the stars.

Jayden Francois dreams of becoming an astrophysicist. 

“I have always loved astrophysics. My dad got me really into that,” Francois said.

Three years ago, Jayden joined UMKC’s “A Bridge to the Stars” program. It aims to teach high school students in the urban core, or who are under-represented, about STEM.

All the students need to do to qualify is have a desire to go to college. They’re able to attend college courses and get mentored by students and associate astronomy professor Daniel McIntosh.

McIntosh has kept in touch with Jayden since he graduated from the program.

“He’s incredibly curious, and he’s incredibly mature. Both of those things immediately stood out,” McIntosh said.

“He immediately was already trying to convince and persuade and have discussions and debates with adult college students, and also when he would answer questions, so there’s lots of opportunities to have provide an argument for an answer, and he would do that frequently.”

Jayden’s dad, Marvin Francois, would attend classes with him from time to time. 

“He came to several classes, and I think even came through class,” McIntosh said. “Just out of curiosity, you can tell it was like he was just interested in what was going on and supportive about what Jayden was doing.”

“Oh, it was the greatest. I just absolutely love my dad being in the program and being in the class because he just he was so much fun to be around,” Jayden said. “You never regretted anytime you had with him. So when he was just being himself in class with you, you couldn’t help but just smile.”

Marvin was killed May 31 after a protest at the plaza. He attended to take photographs of the day, but left and came back to pick someone up.

Police said Marvin was murdered when three black males tried to carjack him at 46th and Warwick. He was shot three times and died at the scene.

Police said since he was killed, there hasn’t been any movement in his case. They’ve only received around five tips at the time of the homicide — and none since.

“This just really had an impact on me, just the senselessness of it, the the tragedy and mostly my heart just going out to Jayden, to his family, into thinking about, you know, what does that, what does that gonna mean for Jayden?” McIntosh said.

“It’s been pretty difficult going through it day by day, but I’m just hoping that sooner or later I can find happiness again,” Jayden said.

Mentors through A Bridge for the Stars put together a Gofundme for Jayden. So far, it’s raised more than $6,000.

Jayden will study astrophysics in the fall at Mizzou. He said he’s excited because he’ll get to do a lot of lab work early to prepare him for higher education in the years to come.

McIntosh said Jayden’s future is much like the universe.

“I think, unlimited possibility,” McIntosh said. “I think that’s probably a maybe it sounds trite or something. But I actually really believe that he’s just a really remarkable young man.”

“I have no idea what the end result will be, but I know that there are so many different things I can accomplish and I’m going to try to accomplish,” Jayden said. “So, you know, the sky’s the limit.”

If you would like to donate to the fund, you can find it here

Anyone with information in the case is asked to call the TIPS Hotline at 816-474-8477. Tipsters can also upload photos and video to the Crime Stoppers website here.

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