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‘Guardian angel:’ Bullet grazed teen’s chin, hit shoulder in Kansas City mass shooting

Mireya Nelson was ready to run.

The 15-year-old could not see the shooter. But she heard the gunfire. And then she felt the strike as she fell backward.

She looked at her hands and saw blood. She crawled toward safety, waiting for someone to help her, as the bullet left a graze wound across her chin and a hole in her shoulder.

Her best friend, Samantha Lickteig, joined her near a tree, lay her head on Mireya and cried. People were running, others stopped to record with their phones.

She was tended to by law enforcement in SWAT-style uniforms, she said, and other rally-goers, including a stranger who was wearing a Chiefs jersey.

Mireya fought to stay awake.

“That was my main thing,” Mireya, one of the gunshot victims in the shooting at the Kansas City Chiefs rally, told The Star on Wednesday. “I couldn’t let myself fall asleep or anything while I was laying on that ground.”

Mireya Nelson, 15, of Belton, Missouri, was shot during the Chiefs Super Bowl Rally last week at Union Station. She stopped by the memorial for the shooting victims in the parking lot of Union Station on Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2024, on her way to a doctor’s appointment at Children’s Mercy Hospital. Mireya sustained a gunshot would through her jaw which traveled into her shoulder. Tammy Ljungblad/tljungblad@kcstar.com

One week after a citywide Super Bowl victory celebration ended with 25 people shot, the two teenage girls made a stop at the memorial set up at Union Station in honor of the victims.

This time they were joined by their mothers. Both felt uncomfortable revisiting the place where chaos had erupted only a few days ago.

Samantha, Mireya’s best friend, said of the experience: “It was just scary.”

“I mean, I can’t even believe that it happened. But I’m glad she’s OK,” said Samantha, also 15 and a student at Belton High School.

“I don’t really like being here.”

The shooting outside Union Station unfolded Feb. 14 as the Chiefs rally was wrapping up and fans were beginning to walk away. Many nearest the gunfire scrambled for cover or ran to escape, leading to at least 14 other injuries not caused by bullets.

After gunfire broke out at the Kansas City Chiefs Super Bowl rally on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2024, fans took cover and other fled the area around Union Station. One person was killed by gunfire and twenty-two others were shot and wounded, some critically. Tammy Ljungblad/tljungblad@kcstar.com
After gunfire broke out at the Kansas City Chiefs Super Bowl rally on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2024, fans took cover and other fled the area around Union Station. One person was killed by gunfire and twenty-two others were shot and wounded, some critically. Tammy Ljungblad/tljungblad@kcstar.com

Among those shot were two young men now accused of murder in the death of Lisa Lopez-Galvan, a 43-year-old bystander and the sole person killed. Police said the shooting started with an argument that involved the two men and two juveniles who now face criminal charges.

Jackson County prosecutors have charged Lyndell Mays, 23, of Raytown, with second-degree felony murder. Also facing a murder charge is 18-year-old Dominic Miller.

Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said Tuesday the shooting stemmed from a dispute between people who were apparently unacquainted prior to an encounter at the rally. A probable cause affidavit filed in support of criminal charges referenced two groups of armed males who argued over “why they were staring at each other.”

Mays is accused of shooting his gun first. Miller allegedly fired the bullet that fatally struck Lopez-Galvan, a Johnson County mother of two and popular disc jockey.

Further details of the alleged involvement by the two juveniles have been withheld by authorities. Both face “gun related” and resisting arrest charges, according to a statement Friday from the family court division of Jackson County Circuit Court.

On Wednesday, Mireya was on her way to an afternoon appointment at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City to have her stitches removed. Next week, she has an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon for her shoulder, said Erika Nelson, Mireya’s mother.

“There’s a lot. It’s going to be a process for more than two years, what I’m told,” said Nelson, adding that there are still bullet fragments in her daughter’s shoulder.

And that’s accounting only for her daughter’s physical injuries, said Nelson, who referenced the damage the shooting may have on her mental health.

“I’m furious,” Nelson said, adding: “The gun laws in Missouri are horrible.”

Nelson was at work when she received a phone call from her daughter’s friend saying she had been shot. She was in disbelief.

In the days since, Nelson has come to regret letting her daughter go to the rally with friends — where they should’ve been safe — on “the one year that I’m not there to protect her.”

“I’m emotionally drained. But I have a good support system. And I want her to know that she’s got a good support system,” Nelson said.

“She had a guardian angel over her. And she’s alive. ‘Cause it could’ve went two different ways. Hit the heart, or further up. And I’m happy my baby’s here.”

Mireya Nelson, 15, of Belton, Missouri, was shot during the Chiefs Super Bowl Rally last week at Union Station. She stopped by the memorial for the shooting victims in the parking lot of Union Station on Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2024, on her way to a doctor’s appointment at Children’s Mercy Hospital. Tammy Ljungblad/tljungblad@kcstar.com
Mireya Nelson, 15, of Belton, Missouri, was shot during the Chiefs Super Bowl Rally last week at Union Station. She stopped by the memorial for the shooting victims in the parking lot of Union Station on Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2024, on her way to a doctor’s appointment at Children’s Mercy Hospital. Tammy Ljungblad/tljungblad@kcstar.com