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Was Thursday’s fatal gunfire in Independence a mass shooting? What research groups say

A fatal shooting Thursday drew a significant police response to rural eastern Independence, where one police officer and one court employee were killed while serving eviction papers to a resident.

Officials identified the victims as Independence police officer Cody Allen and Jackson County Circuit Court civil process server Drexel Mack. Two other police officers were also shot, but are expected to recover.

The number of victims shot makes this incident Kansas City’s third mass shooting in just the first two months of 2024. Here’s what to know about what qualifies as a mass shooting, and how this one compares to other recent incidents.

Was the Independence police shooting a ‘mass shooting’?

Thursday’s shooting qualifies as a “mass shooting” using a widely accepted definition that four people were shot in total.

The Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit organization that tracks shooting incidents around the country, defines a mass shooting as one wherein “a minimum of four victims (are) shot, either injured or killed, not including any shooter.”

While definitions can vary on what constitutes a “mass shooting,” this language is shared by other research and advocacy groups including Everytown for Gun Safety and the Brady Campaign.

As of Friday morning, the Gun Violence Archive had already added Thursday’s shooting to its database of mass shootings around the country.

How many mass shootings have there been in Kansas City?

Thursday’s incident was the 26th mass shooting in the Kansas City area recorded in the last five years by the Gun Violence Archive.

It’s also the area’s third mass shooting in just the first two months of 2024. By comparison, the metro area saw three mass shootings in all of 2021 and four in all of 2020.

Just two weeks earlier, gunfire broke out near Union Station during the Chiefs’ Super Bowl victory rally on Wednesday, Feb. 14. The shooting killed Johnson County radio host Lisa Lopez-Galvan, and 22 more people suffered gunshot wounds, including nine children.

A month before that, a shooting in the Crown Center shopping mall on Wednesday, Jan. 17 injured six people. It was Kansas City’s first mass shooting of 2024.

Since 2019, data from the Gun Violence Archive shows that 23 people have been killed and 138 more have been injured in mass shootings around the metro. Here’s where and when they were shot.

Do you have more questions about gun violence in Kansas City? Ask the Service Journalism team at kcq@kcstar.com.