KANSAS CITY — Kansas City Mayor Sly James, who was pushed into a flower bed by bodyguards trying to protect him during a weekend shooting on the Country Club Plaza, vowed Sunday to quickly develop a plan for dealing with youths who converge on the upscale dining and shopping district on weekends.
The mayor was unhurt in Saturday night's Plaza incident, which he called "bizarre and surreal," but three youths were wounded. Police said a bullet grazed the face of a 15-year-old girl, while two boys, ages 13 and 16, were shot in the legs. Officials said all three were in stable condition Sunday.
James had gone to the Plaza with several community leaders to walk the streets and witness for himself the crowds of teens and preteens whose regular Saturday night presence has prompted worries among merchants and restaurant owners.
The youths, numbering in the hundreds, typically just roam the streets lined by such posh retailers as Tiffany, Armani Exchange, Coach and Burberry, but fights occasionally break out and some merchants say their customers are intimidated.
"We can't have mobs of kids gathering and shooting other kids on public streets, and I don't care where that is," James, who was about 50 yards down the street from where Saturday night's shooting occurred, said during a news conference Sunday at City Hall.
Kansas City has a midnight curfew on Saturdays for those under 18. Highwoods Properties, the company that owns and manages the Plaza, wants the curfew reset to 9 p.m.
James initially responded coolly to the suggestion of an earlier curfew, which would require action by the City Council, and he continued to express skepticism Sunday about the potential effectiveness. But he did not rule it out.
"We can't expect that imposing a curfew is going to stop some 15-, 16-, 17-year-old from bringing a gun to anywhere," James said. "On the other hand, we should be able to expect parents not to have their 13-year-old children on the Plaza getting shot."
He said he would work with the City Council, law enforcement and the school district to develop a response this week. But he also put responsibility on parents.
"The problem is parents dropping underage children there and allowing them to roam freely without supervision or control," James said.
Police barricaded parts of the Plaza late Saturday while officers on horseback and motorcycles helped disperse the crowds. No arrests for the shootings had been made by Sunday evening.