The largest city in any state is going to experience big-city crime, despite the best efforts of law enforcement. Knowing that does not help when an 8-year-old girl is killed by a stray bullet while she is sleeping.
Nothing helps when that happens because such a tragedy should not happen anywhere ever, but certainly not in Wichita. Not in a community with a small-town sensibility, along with strong values and good neighbors – a place where kids are supposed to be able to play outside for long chunks of the day and feel safe in their beds at night.
Yet such an 8-year-old, Kimbra Moore, lost her life to senseless gunfire early Tuesday on South Broadway, the innocent casualty of what police say was some sort of 3 a.m. altercation involving multiple people and a stolen Ford Focus.
There are no words for individuals who would shoot off guns in a mobile home park in the middle of the night, such that one bullet could hit the sleeping third-grader in the head as she shared a bed with two younger siblings in one mobile home and a second bullet could graze the head of a 46-year-old woman as she watched a movie in her living room in another mobile home.
No words except: What were they thinking? How could anyone be so boneheaded and reckless?
And, may justice for those responsible be sure, swift and cold.
As police continue the investigation that had led to two arrests Wednesday, our community should keep Kimbra’s family in its thoughts and prayers.
Meanwhile, it’s reasonable to wonder about the amount of violence in Wichita lately. Eagle headlines over just the past week stoke concern: “Man fires at robbers during home break-in”; “Man dies after being stabbed near downtown”; “Woman, 92, resists robbery”; “2 teens beaten in Old Town”; “Man arrested after shots fired in Old Town.”
It seems a particular problem when the Old Town nightlife district is a locus for trouble, including reported gunfire around the time of the 2 a.m. bar closings the past three weekends. Questions also linger about the March 10 confrontation in which police shot to death 23-year-old Marquez Smart after he fired a handgun into a crowd, according to officers. That incident, which remains under investigation by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation and Sedgwick County District Attorney Nola Foulston, also happened as bars were about to close on a weekend.
Are such crimes statistically predictable in a Midwestern city of 384,000 people, some of whom are hotheaded, stupid and armed? Or is this something more, something justifying community concern and requiring a specific response by City Hall and police?