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

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More Information Has Come Out About the Man Who Senselessly Shot a Young Woman While She Was Walking Her Dog

Things That Matter

More Information Has Come Out About the Man Who Senselessly Shot a Young Woman While She Was Walking Her Dog

Photo via bella_joy_gardens/Instagram

On June 10th, 2020, a senseless crime was committed. 21-year-old Isabella Thallas was shot and killed while she was out walking her dog with her boyfriend, 26-year-old Darian Simon. Simon, who was shot as well, survived.

Almost immediately after Thallas lost her life, the police were informed of the murderer: 36-year-old Michael Close, who lived in the same building as the couple.

Michael Close had shot the couple from his window with an AK-47. Thallas died almost instantly.

Close was quickly arrested and charged with first-degree murder, first-degree attempted murder, first-degree assault, and possession of a high-capacity magazine during a crime.

But questions piled up as to why Close committed this crime in the first place. Why did he target the couple? Was the murder pre-meditated? How did this unstable man get his hands on an AK-47?

As the police put the pieces together, the motive was shocking. According to Close, he shot and killed Thallas because her dog defecated in the alley behind his unit.

The story he gave police lined up with Darian Simon’s version of events as well. Simon says that he and Thallas were walking their dog together behind their building. Simon commanded the dog to “poop” when he heard Close yelling at him from the window above them.

“Are you going to train that f—ing dog or just yell at it?” Close allegedly yelled out the window at them. When Simon bent down to pick up the dog’s feces, that’s when Close open-fired out the window. Simon was able to run away with wounds to his lower body. Thallas lost her life.

According to Close’s girlfriend, the man had been mentally unwell for a long time.

He had been diagnosed with depression as well as a personality disorder but refused to seek help. He frequently abused drugs and alcohol after being sober for three years.

The murder of Thallas was a culmination of a tumultuous night where he had been drinking and arguing with his girlfriend for hours. Thallas just happened to be the person who was at the receiving-end of his outburst. She was at the wrong place at the wrong time.

And recently, some more disturbing information has come to light about Thallas’s murder.

According to Denver Police, the gun that Close used to murder Thallas was taken from his friend, police officer Sgt. Dan Politica.

The close friendship between a police officer and an unhinged murder is, understandably, drawing questions from the Denver community.

The Denver Police Department confirmed that Close and Politica were “close friends”. Thalla’s mother, Anna Thallas, appears to have even more information on the friendship.

“They’re best friends. Life-long best friends for over 20 years. They grew up together,” she told 9News Denver.

Anna Thallas is angry and frustrated that the Denver police aren’t conducting an internal investigation.

The DPD argues that Sgt. Politica did nothing wrong. Thallas points to his failure to report the rifle missing until after her daughter was missing as a massive red flag. It is also worth noting that Politica has a history of violence and disciplinary actions by the DPD.

According to phone records, Close texted Sgt. Politica before the murder complaining about a dog in his neighborhood. After he murdered Thallas, he left Politica a voicemail saying he “really f—-d up bad.”

“That man should be stripped of his uniform,” Anna Thallas said. “Had that officer acted in his capacity and the oath that he took to serve and protect and was a responsible gun owner, Isabella might still be alive. My daughter might still be here.”

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The Florida Law That Resulted In Trayvon Martin’s Death Is About To Be Expanded In A Big Way

Things That Matter

The Florida Law That Resulted In Trayvon Martin’s Death Is About To Be Expanded In A Big Way

Joe Raedle / Getty Images

Florida already has one of the nation’s most far-reaching “Stand Your Ground” laws but the state’s governor wants to take it a step further: allow people to shoot looters and anyone suspected of rioting or being part of a mob.

DeSantis says the move is in response to an increase in crime across the state and to the ongoing nationwide protests that have resulted in occasional property damage and violence.

However, most experts agree that laws like Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law should be weakens or eliminated, since evidence shows that these laws can actually lead to an increase in violence and homicides.

Florida’s governor wants to expand the state’s ‘Stand Your Ground’ law.

Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis (Republican) is looking to amend the state’s “stand your ground” law, to make it one of the nation’s broadest. His amendments to the legislation are part of his “anti-mob” legislation, which are supposed to target people accused of illegal acts during riots and looting.

But critics rightfully worry that expanding the already dangerous law, would empower people to use violence and deadly force during chaotic and tense confrontations at protests.

The timing is also suspicious, considering the move is coming as part of an aggressive agenda following months of large-scale racial justice protests across the country.

Under Florida’s current law “a person is justified in the use of deadly force and does not have a duty to retreat if … he or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony.”

DeSantis wants to expand this law to include “criminal mischief that results in the interruption or impairment of a business operation; arson that results in the interruption or impairment of a business operation; and any other felony.”

Democrats are already pushing back strongly against the proposed amendment.

Credit: Saul Loeb / Getty Images

Legislators, attorneys and others call DeSantis’ proposal “racist,” “dangerous” and “extreme.”

In a recent Miami Herald article, Denise Georges, a former Miami-Dade County County prosecutor who had handled “Stand Your Ground” cases said, “It allows for vigilantes to justify their actions.. It also allows for death to be the punishment for a property crime — and that is cruel and unusual punishment. We cannot live in a lawless society where taking a life is done so casually and recklessly.”

In the same article, Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber, said the governor’s draft bill “sounds like an invitation to incite violence.”

The law gained national attention following the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

Credit: Ted Soqui / Getty Images

In 2012, Trayvon Martin was killed by a man who claimed the “Stand Your Ground” defense and his story shocked the country. The 17-year-old teen was unarmed and chased by George Zimmerman which resulted in a physical altercation.

Although Martin was unarmed and not guilty of any crime – he was returning home from a quick walk to a convenience store – his killer was found not guilty thanks to the state’s strong “Stand Your Ground” law.

So-called ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws are becoming more common across the country.

Nearly three dozen states are “stand your ground” states, including 27 which have explicit laws saying so. They have been expanded over the past ten years as more states follow Florida’s lead.

A 2018 RAND Corporation review of existing research concluded that “there is moderate evidence that stand-your-ground laws may increase homicide rates and limited evidence that the laws increase firearm homicides in particular.” In 2019, RAND authors indicated additional evidence had appeared to reinforce their conclusions.

And although Florida’s legislature remains firmly in Republican control following this year’s election, it’s unclear whether DeSantis will find a sponsor for his proposed amendments.

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