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One charged, one sought in mall parking lot shooting

By Mike Genet mike.genet@examiner.net

As police continue to search for one shooter in an incident Monday afternoon in an Independence Center parking lot, the man wounded during the gunfire exchange has been charged.

Police are searching for this woman for possible information about Monday’s shooting in a parking lot at Independence Center.

Jackson County prosecutors have charged Russell Reed, 26, of Kansas City, with felony possession of a firearm after he allegedly fired his handgun in self-defense after someone started shooting at him with a rifle. Reed suffered a head injury but was released from the hospital later Monday.

According to court documents, Reed and a friend both told police they had been confronted by an unknown man inside the mall, who then walked ahead of them in the parking lot. They then noticed that person, a black man with his hair in “pointy dreads,” hiding behind a car. As they tried to drive away, the man started shooting at them with a rifle. Reed returned fire and got shot and his car was disabled, and the other vehicle sped away as police who had been on patrol duty at the mall arrived.

Reed’s car had bullet holes on the driver’s side. Police later found the second vehicle a few blocks away, unoccupied.

Police collected numerous shell casings, and several other parked vehicles had damage from gunfire. One stray bullet broke a window at the nearby Chick-fil-A restaurant, which had employees inside and customers at the drive-thru. Besides Reed, no other injuries were reported.

Court records showed Reed had a burglary charge in Illinois from February 2020 and was convicted of resisting arrest by fleeing in Clinton County, Missouri, from 2019.

This shooting comes less than a week after an exchange of gunfire inside the mall New Year’s Eve that left a 16-year-old boy with a serious leg injury. Police continue to investigate that incident, which happened after an altercation between two groups of people. 

The shooting, which caused the mall to close early, happened a day before the first weekend of the mall’s newly announced curfew for unaccompanied juveniles age 17 and younger. The curfew originally was set for 3 p.m. Friday through Sunday for unaccompanied minors. 

Later Monday, mall management announced that curfew would be extended to every day.

“Please know that we are teaming up with the city and the police department to help curb these issues so Independence Center can remain a nice place to come with your family to shop and play,” the mall posted on social media. “Ownership is aware and has given permission to hire more security and off-duty police officers. We take these issues very seriously and will spare no expense.”

Independence Police Chief Brad Halsey said his department had officers working overtime last weekend to check IDs at mall entrances and help enforce the curfew, and police will continue to meet with mall management about possible security measures. The mall’s ownership group, based in California, will be meeting with them in a few weeks, he said, and the group’s head of security will be meeting sooner than that.

“They want to make this work,” Halsey said during Monday’s Independence City Council meeting.