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Photographer Bob Greenspan captured 'a very surreal scene' after explosion near the Plaza

  • The Kansas City Star
  • Published Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013, at 6:05 p.m.
  • Updated Thursday, March 7, 2013, at 10:38 a.m.


What commercial photographer Bob Greenspan saw through the windshield of his car Tuesday evening “looked like a giant was standing over the Plaza and was dropping handfuls of roofing material into the street.”

He didn’t hear a thing. The car windows were up and the radio was on, so Greenspan didn’t know right then that a massive explosion had ripped through JJ’s, about a block north from where he was driving on Belleview Avenue just west of the Country Club Plaza.

Greenspan, 52, a University of Kansas graduate who did freelance photography for The Kansas City Star in the 1980s and early ’90s, was on his way to his Kansas City home from his studio inside the Uptown Theater building.

He immediately turned into the nearest lot, jumped out and grabbed his Canon camera from the trunk. He started snapping shots and ran toward what he by then could see was smoke billowing from a building.

His first shots captured the black smoke gushing from the low building. “I couldn’t tell right then that it was JJ’s, but I drive that street every day on my way home from work,” Greenspan said in an interview. “As I got closer I could see the glow of the flames.”

He was on the scene even before he could hear the sirens of emergency vehicles.

On his Facebook page, he wrote: “It was a very surreal scene, with victims wandering out like zombies — obviously in shock.”

To reach Mará Rose Williams, call 816-234-4419 or send email to mdwilliams@kcstar.com.

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