Undeterred: Kansas City crowds go to St. Patrick’s Day parade, month after violence at Chiefs’ rally

The memory of the deadly shooting at last month’s Super Bowl rally in was still on the minds of many at the St. Patrick’s Day parade on Sunday. (AP video/Nicholas Ingram)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — April Coleman spent Sunday cavorting in the street with family and friends, passing out green beads at the St. Patrick’s Day parade in Kansas City, Missouri, and she said she would not be deterred by last month’s deadly shooting at another big mass gathering.

A rally honoring the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs was disrupted when two groups of people began shooting at each other, leaving a mother of two dead and about two dozen others injured — half of them under 16.

Coleman acknowledged that the shooting wasn’t completely out of her mind, but said she never considered skipping the St. Patrick’s Day parade.

“I don’t want to live my life in fear,” she said. “I still want to come out and have fun with good people.”

This time around, under a heavy police presence, things were calm. Police spokeswoman Alayna Gonzalez said just two people were arrested, both for non-violent crimes.

Erin Gabert of the parade committee said the crowd appeared somewhat smaller this year, but it was unclear if that was because people were still fearful after the shooting, or if the brisk, breezy weather kept people away.

Along the route, a man driving a Corvette in the parade stopped long enough to shake the hand of a police officer, and several others did, too. One float was pulled by a truck with a sign on the front that read, “Kansas City Strong.”

Parade organizers and police were diligent in taking steps to ensure safety. Gonzalez said 400 officers were on the scene. Uniformed officers lined the lengthy parade route, while many more in plainclothes mingled amid the green-clad crowd. Other officers watched from rooftops. A police helicopter hovered above the parade.

The Super Bowl rally shooting showed, though, that there are limitations to what can be done to stop a sudden outbreak of violence. About 800 officers were on the streets that day when the shots rang out toward the end of the Feb. 14 rally.

Police said two groups of people became agitated, apparently because each group didn’t like the way members of the other were looking at them. Lisa Lopez-Galvan, a 43-year-old radio personality, was standing nearby when she was fatally struck.

Last month, two men were charged with second-degree murder and other crimes. Three other people were charged Monday, accused of illegally purchasing high-powered rifles and guns with extended magazines, including guns involved in the shooting. And two juveniles are in custody on gun-related and resisting arrest charges.

Organizers of the St. Patrick’s Day parade and people involved in other big area parades met shortly after the shooting to compare emergency plans and discuss best practices to deal with potential problems.

Parade leaders urged paradegoers to leave their guns at home and to arrive with a plan for where to park and where to meet if people got separated. Families were encouraged to have kids wear something that identifies them. They also were encouraged to tell police or a volunteer if they saw anything out of the ordinary.

Gabert understood why some may have been hesitant to attend this year’s parade. Those who did, she said, appeared to have a good time.

“It was nice to have some normalcy and feel good, and enjoy St. Patrick’s Day,” she said.


Salter reported from O’Fallon, Missouri.

Jim Salter is the AP correspondent in St. Louis.