Vigil Honors Memory of Murder Victim

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Two years later and police still don’t know who pulled the trigger in the death of 21-year-old Christopher Bartholomew.

Sunday’s vigil was all about keeping Chris’ memory alive but also about keeping his story alive in hopes of finding his killer.

“The pain doesn’t ever go away. You have a new life It’s not normal but to anybody whose been through this,” Christopher Bartholomew’s mother Misty Kirwan said.

Bartholomew was one of four people shot at 39th and Broadway on May 20. He died a few days later .Even though the area was packed with people leaving the bars, they had very few leads. Kirwan is still hopeful that will change.

“We need people to come forward and call in tips. It has to stay out in the public because these people will kill again if they haven’t already,” Kirwan said.

Crime-victim advocate Alvin Brooks says Chris’s death was not a case of him being at the wrong place at the wrong time.

“It was the person who was shooting that was at the wrong place at the wrong time. That’s what occurred,” Brooks said.

Kirwan wants people to keep the memory of her son alive and bring those responsible for his death to justice.

“He had a big heart. He would have never though of doing anything like this to anyone else.”

Bartholomew’s grandmother Sue said, “We miss Chris and we want to keep him forever young in our heart. We want people to keep it out in the open and not forget.”

The family hopes that the $30,000 reward will compel anyone with any information will come forward.

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Misty Kirwan has little to celebrate this Christmas. She’s not planning parties or putting up a tree.

The holidays are just another reminder that her only child, Chris Bartholomew, is gone.
Bartholomew, 21, was fatally shot in the back of the head in a Walgreen’s parking lot near Westport on May 20, 2007. He was an innocent victim caught in the crossfire of a drive-by shooting.
Kirwan helped raise a $30,000 reward and got billboards posted. But police haven’t received a valid tip for a year.
Investigators on Tuesday shared new details to focus more attention on the unsolved homicide at 39th Street and Broadway.
Police said they thought that four cars were involved. They have identified four occupants of a black Dodge Charger, which fled down an alley before the fatal bullet was fired. But they need help identifying the occupants of the other three cars.

The four cars, containing rivals in a violent feud, converged at the crowded intersection that night as hundreds of people leaving taverns milled on the streets.

Bartholomew was there to give a friend a ride home, but the friend had wandered off.
The Charger was headed west on 39th and preparing to stop for a red light when a blue Isuzu Rodeo pulled up close in the next lane. A silver or gray Pontiac G6 trailed the Rodeo.
Police aren’t sure exactly what happened next, but investigators said they thought that occupants of the Rodeo and Pontiac began shooting into the Charger. Witnesses heard yelling and cursing.

Occupants of the Charger fired back. Witnesses saw some men standing outside the cars shooting and others shooting from their car seats.

The bullet-riddled Charger with shattered windows escaped down the nearby alley.

The Pontiac jerked into reverse and backed up to pull into the Walgreen’s parking lot.

The Rodeo sped west to the intersection and north on Broadway.
The maroon car, possibly filled with occupants aligned with the Charger’s occupants, raced to follow the Rodeo onto Broadway.

Occupants of the Pontiac fired from Walgreen’s parking lot toward Broadway while gunmen in the Rodeo and maroon car apparently fired at each other.

Bartholomew was standing on stairs between the parking lot and the Broadway sidewalk when the trio of bullet-spewing cars sandwiched him.
He pushed a homeless man down and out of the way but caught a bullet to the back of his head as he tried to duck.
In all, police said they thought six guns were fired during the rolling gunbattle.
Police later found the Charger on 39th Terrace.

The Rodeo’s driver dropped off a wounded passenger at a hospital. He survived a torso wound.
Police later found the Rodeo with bullet holes along the driver’s side abandoned in the city. It had been reported stolen.
The Pontiac was returned to a rental company with no bullet holes, but some damage to the back end.
Police determined that two occupants of the Charger suffered minor graze-type wounds.

Weeks later, one of the occupants was accused of firing 30 rounds at a Kansas City police officer during a traffic stop. The wounded officer survived. The suspect remains behind bars.
The rival groups tied to Bartholomew’s shooting had been involved in several other shoot-outs in previous months, said homicide Detective Janice Heins.
The suspects were bold, Heins said. They weren’t deterred by the presence of a parked police car on Broadway with its lights flashing.

“That’s how reckless and out of control these people were,” she said.

Heins has struggled to bring a case to prosecutors because of the complicated crime scene and the no-snitching mentality of those involved.
“There were so many people involved and so many guns,” she said. “But I believe it’s possible to charge someone eventually.”

Kirwan said she thought that no one was safe in Kansas City until the shooters were locked up.
“They didn’t look. They didn’t care. They didn’t think,” she said. “They didn’t care that anyone else was around.”
Anyone with information should call the TIPS Hotline at 816-474-TIPS (474-8477). Callers can remain anonymous.

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