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  • Writer's pictureRoger Sims, Journal Staff

La Cygne family scrambles to safety after shots disrupt Chiefs rally


Photographer Jenn Vogt and her family were close enough to the stage on Wednesday to get this photo of the Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs on the stage at rally at Union Station. (Photos by Jenn Vogt/Barefoot Lifestyle Photography)


Kansas City, Mo. – It was the beginning of a great adventure for Jenn Vogt, her two sons, and her boyfriend. The group headed down early Wednesday morning, Feb. 14, to Union Station to take in the rally for the Kansas City Chiefs’ Super Bowl win. They arrived early, about 7:15 a.m., and parked the car at 25th and Summit streets and began the three-quarter mile walk toward where the rally, set to start about 12:45 p.m., was to take place.


As they walked during the cool-but-sunny February morning with highs expected in the 50s, fellow fans were obviously in a celebratory mood.


Little did she know, though, that as the celebration wound down it would be accompanied by a senseless tragedy with 23 rally-goers being shot or injured, including a 43-year-old mother from Shawnee, Kan., who died as a result of her wounds.


On Friday morning, two juveniles who were taken into custody at the scene of the shooting on Wednesday were charged with resisting arrest and gun-related counts. According to a release by the Jackson County Family Court, it is anticipated that additional charges are expected as Kansas City, Mo., police conduct the investigation.


Awaiting the parade carrying the Chiefs team to the rally site, Vogt’s group had enough time to walk around the area, visiting Crown Center and stopping by vendors for food and drink. As the  double-decker buses carrying the football team arrived, her group was on the west side of the parking lot in front of Union Station with a good view of the stage set up in front of Union Station.


Vogt's sons munch on snacks in the morning before the rally begins.


“We had a great view,” said Vogt, who is assistant city clerk for the city of La Cygne and owner of Barefoot Lifestyle Photography. She took numerous photos of the morning's events.


Chiefs owner Clark Hunt spoke to the estimated 1 million people at the rally. So did head coach Andy Reid, the Super Bowl’s three-time MVP quarterback Patrick Mahomes, star tight-end Travis Kelce and several other players.


But as the program was winding down, fireworks went off in the crowd, or so television commentators thought. But for Vogt and her family who were close enough to the shooting that she said it sounded gunfire.


“When we heard it, it definitely . . . we were close enough, let me tell you, it did not sound like fireworks,” she said. “It was the distinct sound of an automatic firearm.”


Video aired on network news of two men in the crowd chasing down and tackling one of the likely shooters zoomed in to show that the suspected shooter dropped what appeared to be an assault-style rifle on the ground when he was stopped.


It was at this point that Vogt stopped taking photos and began to focus on survival.


When Vogt heard the gunfire, her group began running toward where their vehicle was parked, which she admitted made no sense considered that they were running right toward where the shots were coming from. They changed course and hid in a mob of people that ducked by a yellow trailer.


That’s when she saw that they were about 10 feet from a wounded person on the ground. In the course of trying to escape the chaos, she would see three wounded on the ground, having to step around a woman lying there.


The group then began running east toward Crown Center. But as they reached a point in front of the main stage they met a crowd of people running toward them. They then changed course and began running south toward the World War I Memorial. That involved climbing a hill and scaling a wall that was as taller than she was.


They handed up the two boys, ages 10 and 12, and then she got a boost to scale the wall as well.


She described the scene as chaotic. As the crowd ran away from the gunfire, police officers and emergency medical personnel were trying to push their way back through toward the victims.


Chiefs players prepare to disembark from the buses as fans crowd around them at Union Station for the rally.


“It took 30 minutes for them to announce there was an active shooter,” she said. “So until people heard it, they were still trying to go into where the gunfire was. We were pushing into people who were like, ‘Why are you not letting us go this way.’”


Some media outlets reported that there was another gunfire incident several blocks east of the rally scene, but there has been no confirmation by authorities.

 

Eventually, the family made its way back to the car on foot.


“It was a whole adventure getting back over there,” she said. “We had to completely reroute ourselves.”


As schools in the Kansas City metro area, most of which closed for the day of the parade, begin looking at what counseling children who witnessed the mass chaos might need, Vogt said she thinks she and her boyfriend were able to shield her two boys from the traumatic images of the day.


While the boys were startled by the gunfire, the adults grabbed the boys by the hand and steered them through the crowd. 


“Thankfully, they were short enough in this mob – as we tried to talk through it yesterday – they did not see any bodies on the ground,” she said. “I had them so close, I just kept saying, ‘Do not let go of me,’ over and over.


“And I’m certain their eyes were probably closed, and when we stepped around the woman on the ground, they didn’t have any clue at that point we had just walked around someone on the ground, which I’m thankful for.”


She said she and her boyfriend were able to shield the boys.


“They didn’t see what we were seeing as we tried to navigate our way through the mess,” she said.


Vogt and her family determined that they would meet in a specific place if they happened to get separated at the rally. After they got in the car, she said she remembered that plan.


“Never in a million years did it cross my mind that if something like this happened, this is what we’re going to do,” she said.


When Vogt’s group arrived at the rally site, they began looking for food vendors. As they walked about the area, everyone was in a good mood.


“People were walking down the road giving high-fives everywhere you went, like a big family,” she said, “but it definitely didn’t end that way.”


While Vogt believes that her boys escaped the incident without too much trauma, she can’t say the same for herself. While Kansas City, Mo., Mayor Quinton Lucas said plans are still on for the annual St. Patrick’s Day parade, Vogt says she won’t be attending any event that crowded for the foreseeable future.


“It will not happen,” she said. “Not a chance.”


If the Chiefs win a third Super Bowl next year, Vogt said she will watch the rally from her desk at City Hall.


In fact, she had planned to attend a girls’ night out in Westport this weekend. But after her frightening experience at the rally, she doesn’t plan on doing anything like that, at least not for now.




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