In Memoriam: Erin Langhofer

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Erin Langhofer 1993-2019

Three young men, one with a loaded 9 mm handgun shoved in his sweatpants pocket, came to First Friday to “meet friends and hang out”, according to police.

A young woman from Overland Park, a therapist working with victims of domestic violence at the Rose Brooks Center, visited First Friday to enjoy an event that embodies the revival of our downtown.

At about 10 p.m., One of the young men got into a random fight near 18th and Walnut with another young man who knocked him down.

Rather than back off, according to police, he pulled out his pistol. His opponent ran, but he started shooting anyway, firing all nine rounds.

As one detective described it in the arrest warrant: “He deliberately fired nine shots horizontally into a crowd of persons until his magazine was empty.”

Several of the bullets hit the windshield, bumper, sides and window of two parked vehicles.

One bullet struck Erin Langhofer in the head as she stood by her boyfriend at a nearby food truck.

Here’s how police described the awful moment:

“Another witness, who was overwhelmed with grief during his statement, stated that he and his girlfriend (the victim) were standing at one of the food trucks waiting to get something to eat.

“He heard several gunshots. He stated that he then observed the victim lying on the ground with apparent trauma to her body and to be bleeding.”

According to the dry language of the report: “The entry point of the bullet was near the right eyebrow, but there was no exit.”

First Fridays embody the revitalization downtown has experienced in recent years.

Off-duty police hired for First Friday security chased the three young men after hearing the shots, one of whom dropped a gun as he fled. Police quickly caught them and arrested him.

Deon’te S. Copkney, 18, of Kansas City, has been charged with second degree murder in connection with the incident.

Erin Langhofer, 25, is dead. A young woman who, by all accounts, had a joyous spirit and compassionate heart, is gone.

At a First Friday, on a pleasant summer night, two worlds of Kansas City collided.

A young woman with so much promise and life ahead of her leaves behind a grieving family and loved ones.

A young man who decided for some disturbing reason to bring a gun to a friendly social event will possibly live much of his life in prison.

Our downtown has come a long way in recent years. It has regained its rightful role as a place where we can gather, and as is clearly evident with First Fridays, celebrate together.

But when it comes to gun violence, our city remains stuck in a decades-long morass of bloodshed that has killed more than 2,100 people since the beginning of the 21st Century.

That’s more than the 1,856 American soldiers who’ve died in combat in Afghanistan during that period.

We owe it to Erin and all human beings whose lives have been destroyed, from whatever neighborhoods, a better, safer Kansas City.

May she rest in peace and may God bless and console her family and loved ones.

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