Things That Matter

Kansas City Police Are Looking For Two Men Suspected Of Shooting Patrons Of A Tequila Bar

It was a normal Saturday night for Tequila Kansas City Bar (TKC) bartender, Jose Valdez. He was serving new customers and old when a familiar, unwelcome face walked in at 11 p.m. asking for a drink. Valdez refused to serve the man, recalling the issues he’s caused the bar in the past. The man threw a glass at him and he was promptly escorted out. At 1:30 a.m., the same man walked back into the bar with a friend and handguns. Smoke filled the tiny room as they shot people at random.

Four Latino men were killed and five other victims were wounded. TKC is a private, members-only bar that has always been regarded as a “safe space” for the Latino community. Three of the slain were second-generation TKC patrons. Their parents were also members.

TKC usually staffs a security guard, but he didn’t show up that night.

Credit: @OfficialJoelF / Twitter

The owner of Tequila KC Bar told KMBC reporter Matt Evans that the bar scheduled a security guard that night, but “he never showed up.” Kansas City, Kansas Police confirmed that they had arrived on the scene earlier in the night. The suspect had picked a fight with someone as he was being escorted out and the two brawled outside. By the time the police arrived, the fight was over and they left.

Shock and adrenaline allowed the wounded to escape from the bar before the pain set in.

Credit: @ellemoxley / Twitter

Two hours later, the suspect arrived with an accomplice and handguns. Survivors recall hearing at least a dozen gunshots, and could barely see through the gun smoke.

“They went off so quick I didn’t think it was gunshots,” customer Michael Barajas told the Kansas City Star.

The two gunmen are still at large.

Credit: Kansas City Police Department

Police have released security camera images of the suspects, in hopes that anyone who recognizes them will come forward. Police have yet to name the suspects, and police spokesman Officer Thomas Tomasic told The Kansas City Star that he doesn’t believe the shooting was racially motivated. “It’s a pretty small bar,” Tomasic told the paper. “You have two guys come in, start shooting, people are just running. People are just running wherever they can.”

Victim Alfredo Calderon had a 6-year-old son and 4-year-old daughter to raise.

Credit: Alfredo Calderon / Facebook

While police haven’t released the names of any of the victims, some family members are coming forward to remember their deceased. Juan Ramirez told reporters that his 29-year-old nephew, Alfredo Calderon, died in the shooting. “We’re just in shock and disbelief,” Ramirez told The Kansas City Star, adding that his nephew had “nothing to do with it.”

This wasn’t bartender Valdez’s first shooting either. “I don’t know what to make of it,” he told The Kansas City Star, through tears. “A sad day for everybody who lost their lives and their families. How can you go into a place full of people and just start shooting?” He said he hugged his own niños Sunday morning, saying “pray to God I’m here.”

When a witness’s fiancé was shot, she tried to stop the bleeding and “held him till he took his last breath.”

Shay Celedon was at TKC with her best friend and her fiancé, both of whom have yet to be identified. Celedon said the two were waiting until after her niece’s quinceañera to get down to wedding planning hoping to tie the knot in October 2020. The three were enjoying their night until they witnessed the violent fight outside the bar. Celedon got a sinking feeling and decided to go home for fear that “something bad would happen.”

“None of it really seems real right now,” she told CNN. “We were sitting here yesterday evening having drinks with my best friend’s fiancé. I go home, go to bed, get woken up two hours later that he’s deceased, and she held him till he took his last breath, and tried to bring him back and keep pressure on his gunshot wound. And it was just one fatal shot that took him from us.”

Tequila Kansas City Bar “was a home away from home, you could say.”

Credit: Sherae Honeycutt / Facebook

Toni Maciel, 36, knew seven of the nine victims personally. While she returned to TKC the following day to be with her “TKC family” and community, she doesn’t feel safe anymore. Maciel knows the wife of the alleged shooter. During a karaoke night just two days prior, she witnessed him physically abuse his wife. Maciel intervened and asked him to leave. “This was a home away from home, you could say,” she told The Kansas City Star. “But after this, I don’t know what would happen with our community.”

Tequila Kansas City Bar hosted a vigil for the victim Sunday night at 7 p.m.

As we report on this story, the community is gathering around TKC to pay vigil to the deceased. Kansas Governor Laura Kelly released a statement saying she continues “to be frustrated that these mass shootings and killings occur with regular frequency. Our nation has an obligation to address this ongoing public health crisis.”

READ: Some People Claim This Sandy Hook PSA Has Gone “Too Far” In Illustrating the Impact of School Shootings

Shooting Death Of Ahmaud Arbery Is Another Example Of White Privilege In America

Things That Matter

Shooting Death Of Ahmaud Arbery Is Another Example Of White Privilege In America

Ahmaud Arbery / Facebook

The rallying cry “Black Lives Matter” is once again front and center – on the tips of all of our tongues – after yet another shooting death of an unarmed black man. This time the victim is 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery of Georgia who was shot and killed by two white men who allegedly thought he was responsible for a string of burglaries in their largely white neighborhood.

Recent video footage has cast serious doubt on their story and is sparking outrage across the country as more and more people call for an investigation. Keep in mind: the two men who shot and killed Ahmaud haven’t been charged with any crime, let alone arrested.

A man called 911 to report ‘black male running’ prior to the shooting.

Credit: @BLMAtlanta / Twitter

In Georgia, the parents of a black man killed by two white men armed with a revolver and a shotgun called for immediate arrests yesterday as they faced the prospect of waiting a month or longer before a grand jury considers charges.

Their son, Ahmaud Arbery, had gone for a jog in Satilla Shores, near the Georgia coast. The 25-year-old was known around the neighborhood, and would sometimes wave to residents as he ran. But that day, a series of events unfolded that ended in his killing at the hands of Gregory McMichael, and his son, Travis McMichael.

Lawyers for Arbery’s family have said his death was a “lynching” and requested it be investigated as a hate crime

A recently released graphic video shows moments of incident but leaves out several important details.

Credit: AP News / YouTube

Video footage captured by an unidentified witness in a vehicle being driven behind Arbery shows him as he jogs along a two-lane road. Ahead, a white pickup truck is parked, with one man standing in the truck bed and another standing by the driver’s side.

Arbery is seen running toward the truck’s right side and he then veers in and out of the camera’s frame. A gunshot rings out. Arbery is then seen entering into a struggle with one man, who appears to hold a long gun. Another shot then rings out; Arbery was shot at least twice before he fell to the pavement.

The shooters – who are identified in a police report as ‘witnesses’ – say they thought Arbery was responsible for a string of burglaries.

An incident report identifies Gregory McMichael, 64, and his son, Travis McMichael, 34, as the two men who pursued Arbery.

Gregory McMichael said he saw Arbery run by his front yard and alerted his son, according to the police report — he says they thought he resembled a suspect behind recent break-ins in the neighborhood. Both men then grabbed weapons and attempted to follow Arbery in their pickup truck. After a chase, the men pulled up beside Arbery and shouted at him to stop, McMichael claimed, and Travis McMichael got out of the vehicle with a shotgun. Gregory McMichael alleged that Arbery then attacked Travis and that the men began fighting over the weapon before any shots were fired— an assertion which appears to contradict the footage appearing to show Arbery only began grappling with a man after the first shot.

The shooting took place in late February – what is going on with the investigation?

Credit: @BLMAtlanta / Twitter

Arbery was ambushed and shot dead by two men despite not being guilty for any crime. Yet more than two months after his death, no one has been arrested or charged for the crime of gunning down an innocent man.

The handling of the case has been marred with conflicts of interest, since one of the men involved is a former investigator for the District Attorney’s office and a former police officer. Several law enforcement officials have had to recuse themselves from the case because of their connections to the McMichael family.

Lee Merrit, an attorney for Abery’s family, said “The Glynn County Police Department has the authority and legal imperative to make an arrest today, pending the presentation of this case to a grand jury. These men must be taken into custody pending their indictment.”

Durden, District Attorney of Georgia’s Atlantic Judicial Court, has said a Glynn County grand jury should make the decision on whether criminal charges should be brought in the case. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, however, grand juries are prohibited from meeting through June 12.

As the outrage grows over this man’s death, a growing number of major voices are calling for justice.

Former United States Vice-President Joe Biden has joined politicians calling for a just and transparent investigation into the fatal shooting of unarmed Arbery.

In a tweet on Wednesday, 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Biden called for “a swift, full, and transparent investigation” into Arbery’s murder.

Senator Elizabeth Warren, another former candidate for Democratic nomination, also said the video was “sickening”.

“The fact that no action has been taken after two months is unacceptable. Ahmaud’s friends and family deserve accountability and justice,” she tweeted.

Ilhan Omar, a Democratic member of the House, tweeted on Wednesday: “Arbery was lynched. Killed in cold blood simply for being a Black man in America. Far too often, our criminal justice system fails us. We can’t let that happen this time.”

He Spent Nine Months Fighting For His Life Since The El Paso Shooting But Unfortunately He Became The 23rd Victim Of The Massacre

Things That Matter

He Spent Nine Months Fighting For His Life Since The El Paso Shooting But Unfortunately He Became The 23rd Victim Of The Massacre

Facebook / Garcia Family

It’s been nine months since the El Paso Massacre – on August 3, 2019 – in which now 23 people lost their lives. Amid the global Coronavirus pandemic, El Paso and its Latino community struggle to rebuild their faith and their hope.

In the wake of the attack, much of the nation was grief-stricken as El Paso’s large Latino community came under attack by an alleged white nationalist. Now, the community is once again mourning the loss of one of their own as the massacre claims another victim – nine months later.

A victim of the attack died in the hospital nearly nine months after the massacre.

In a statement, Del Sol Medical Center’s CEO said, “After a nearly nine-month fight, our hearts are heavy as we report Guillermo ‘Memo’ Garcia, our last remaining patient being treated from the El Paso shooting, has passed away.”

“His courage, his strength and his story have touched many lives, including those of our caregivers, who tirelessly fought with him and for him every step of the way,” the statement continued. “We are grieving with his family and with our community.”

His wife Jessica, who was also shot, said in a statement to KDBC-TV, “Last night at 11:22 we lost a warrior, but gained an angel. He fought long and hard, with the help of all his troops he won many battles but lost the war.”

“We would like to ask the community to continue to lift Memo in prayer and allow us to grief this tremendous loss, we are asking for privacy during this time,” Garcia said.

Memo and his wife Jessica had been in the Walmart parking lot fundraising for their daughter’s football team.

Credit: @CAMERONTYGETT / TWITTER

The family had set up a lemonade stand in the Walmart parking lot to help raise money for their daughter’s local soccer team. Memo was shot twice in the leg and once in the back as he protected his two children, who were also there. Jessica had been shot three times in both legs; the couple’s children were not struck.

One week after the shooting, Jessica Garcia rose from her wheelchair to deliver an emotional speech from across from the courthouse where the suspected attacker was being kept and decrying the racism that apparently motivated the attack.

“Racism is something I always wanted to think didn’t exist. Obviously, it does,” she said.

The shooter was an alleged white nationalist who specifically targeted the Latino community of El Paso.

The FBI is investigating the shooting as an act of domestic terrorism and a possible hate crime. The shooting has been described as the deadliest attack on Latinos in modern American history.

According to CNN, the shooter drove more than 10 hours to the store, located near the Mexican border, specifically to find and kill Latinos. Officials believe he was the person who wrote a racist, xenophobic manifesto posted online minutes before the massacre, in which he warned about a “Hispanic invasion” of Texas.

A relative of one of the victims told the El Paso Times that the shooter was mainly looking for Hispanic shoppers to gun down. There are reports from white and Black customers that the gunman let them leave, so he could target Latino shoppers.

Memo’s family plans a proper memorial but given the social distancing rules in-place that will be held at a later date.

The family is planning a proper memorial once the Coronavirus pandemic passes.

“When the pandemic and social distancing orders pass we will have a proper memorial and mass, where the community can pay their respects to an El Paso warrior!”

In the meantime, a vigil for Guillermo Garcia has been planned for Monday, with attendees being asked to remain in their vehicles and “demonstrate our love and honor for Memo by turning on our headlights”, instead of candles.