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Mall shooting investigation continues

By Mike Genet mike.genet@examiner.net

Police say there was an exchange of gunfire in the shooting New Year’s Eve at Independence Center, leaving a 16-year-old boy with a serious leg injury.

Independence Police continue to investigate the shooting, which happened at 5:13 p.m. Thursday near Dillard’s inside the mall, and caused the mall to close shortly before its scheduled time. The shooting happened after an altercation between two groups of people, and investigators have recovered video of the shooting and are still looking for others who might have witnessed or were part of the incident, IPD spokesperson John Syme said.

According to police, officers working off-duty security at the mall heard shots, found the victim and provided some life-saving assistance to the victim, and one person was detained. Police are still determining possible charges, Syme said.

The shooting happened a day before the first weekend of the mall’s newly announced curfew for unaccompanied juveniles age 17 and younger. The curfew is 3 p.m. Friday-Sunday for unaccompanied minors.

The decision for that curfew came after multiple disturbances and fights stemming from a late-afternoon crowd of an estimated 500 juveniles Dec. 26. Police arrested six adults and four juveniles at the scene, several law enforcement departments were called to assist with dispersing the crowd, and the mall closed a half-hour early at 6:30 p.m. 

Four of the adults are parents or guardians of unaccompanied teens who were at the mall and were charged, Independence Police said, and they were cited for endangering the welfare of a minor. Other citations were disorderly conduct, interfering with police, assault of a law enforcement officer and providing false information. Two young adults cited had been with a group of juveniles, police said.

Late in 2020, a few weeks after another call for police to disburse a large group of juveniles, the Independence City Council altered the city curfew. The age of minors under curfew guidelines went from 17 to 18, the Friday and Saturday youth curfew went from midnight to 11 p.m., and a new 9 p.m. curfew was applied to the so-called I70/M291 District, which includes the mall and surrounding retail area along 39th Street, Cable Dahmer Arena and the surrounding retail area, and the area including Bass Pro Shops and Main Event entertainment center.

The curfew is for unaccompanied minors and doesn’t apply for those running an emergency errand for parents/guardians, returning from work or leaving an organized school, recreational or sporting event or ticketed concert.