Voices: Tragedy in Kansas City

Kasandra Perkins, 22, was killed by her boyfriend, football player Jovan Belcher, Saturday.
Of course Belcher is the headliner in this tragedy, because he apparently thanked the people trying to talk him out of killing himself for all they had done for him. Then he was gone, day before a game, outside Arrowhead Stadium, dead at 25.

But Jovan Belcher had a chance for it all to end differently, at least for him, no matter what brought him to this moment outside Arrowhead Stadium. That is why the real tragedy here — the real victim — is a young woman named Kasandra Michelle Perkins, whom Belcher shot and killed before he ever parked his car at the Chiefs’ practice facility and put that gun to his head.

She was 22 and the mother of Belcher’s child, a child who is 3 months old, a child who will grow up in a world without parents. At about 10 minutes to 8, according to Kansas City police, Jovan Belcher put a gun on the mother of his child in a house on the 5400 block of Chrysler Ave. in Kansas City and started shooting and kept shooting. You want to mourn somebody? Start with her.

“Welcome to our world,” a former New York City police detective I know said on Saturday about the shootings in Kansas City. “This time it just happened to be the National Football League.”
– Mike Lupica, New York Daily News


It should come as no surprise that Crennel, Chiefs players, Pioli, owner Clark Hunt and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell quickly agreed not to delay Sunday’s football congregation at Arrowhead Stadium.

Football is our God. Its exaggerated value in our society has never been more evident than Saturday morning in my adopted hometown. There’s just no way this game should be played.

Twenty-eight hours after witnessing one of his starting linebackers take his life, Crennel will stand on the sideline as young men play a violent game. Twenty-eight hours after one of their best friends killed the mother of his child and himself, Chiefs players will take the field and play a violent game.

Football is a game of emotion. Football is a game in which the coaches and players preach about treating each other as family.

How can they play Sunday? Why should they?
– Jason Whitlock, Fox News

“I definitely agree with the decision to play today,” wide receiver Dexter McCluster said. “This is the game we love. This is the game Jovan loved. This is the game fans love, so why not go out here and do something that we love to do?”

For others, the alternative was worse.

“The least-worst option was to play the game,” center Ryan Lilja said. “Suffering a tragedy like that, maybe the best thing was to be together and do what we do — and that’s what we do, we play football.”

In light of a 27-21 win and perhaps the Chiefs’ finest performance of the season, it’s hard to argue against going ahead with the game, which several players hoped might speed up the healing process.

– Tod Palmer, The Kansas City Star

According to medical studies, around 600 murder-suicide events take place each year in the United States, resulting in 1,000 to 1,500 deaths. Most of those don’t generate this much attention. As far as anyone can remember, this is the first such incident involving an athlete in America’s most popular sport.

Three months ago, a man shot a woman and then killed himself in the Kauffman Stadium parking lot a few hours before a Royals game. The victim in that shooting had two children, a school-aged son and a grown daughter. She spent weeks in a hospital; her spleen was removed, among other operations, but she has survived.

That story came and went faster than this one will, and if we’re smart we’ll gain some understanding about the problem. Maybe we’ll remember that domestic abuse is still a major problem in America.
– Sam Mellinger, The Kansas City Star

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  • FYouMudFlaps

    Bob Costas is a boss on this issue. Lawrence O’Donnell had him on the show so he (Costas) could explain his comments in full context. Rock solid, both of them.

  • Linda

    I was at the game and the staff paid tribute to victims of domestic violence, not the violent offender, as I expected them to. It really was a difficult situation, but I think playing the game was the right decision. The lesser of two bad choices. Many players/staff have lost family members during a sports season and I’ve never seen a game cancelled because of it. If my partner or myself passed away in a tragedy, my organization would not close for business. It was an unfortunate and unnecessary act of violence and I’m disgusted by the disturbing behavior of Belcher. However, it would be difficult for the organization to act in a way pleasing to all.

  • LeilaM12

    I agree with Fox News. That must be a first. I am pretty disgusted at most of the reaction. Yesterday USA Today had the headline “Players pay tribute to Jovan Belcher”. See who’s invisible in that headline? And who’s a hero?

    • tlfk

      Agreed, those headlines yesterday were more about the game than what happened (although most statements from fans did not appear to want to focus on his career). The musings today in the MSM don’t seem much better, from what I have seen. The usual hand-wringing (“what happened?”), but doesn’t appear to be much interest in moving beyond the story of personal tragedy in famous family to really talk about the potential DV aspect. Granted, they still don’t know exactly what happened, so I can see shying away from naming it that just yet,and they also maybe don’t feel comfortable laying out all the family business without knowing for sure what is going on. There are certainly a lot of indicators pointing towards domestic abuse, including the classic example of DV, the murder/suicide. But perhaps they want to wait on that.

      However, if they don’t want to jump to conclusions w/out the facts, then I am a little surprised at all I’ve read speculating whether head trauma suffered from as a football player had anything to do with this event. They don’t necessarily have any more substantiated evidence for that, do they? This case made me think of the Benoit (WWE wrestler) case about five years ago, who murdered his wife and child and then himself. At the time, there were unclear details (there had been allegations of prior DV; but then there was also the discussion of whether or not he was brain-damaged from the wrestling stunts/meds), and the years since don’t seem to have cleared any of that up. Nor does anyone seem interested in doing so. It seems that since he is dead, the WWE has just wiped him from their canon, never to discuss the issue again. Which – understandable, they don’t want to honor someone’s legacy after what he did. But that also seems to mean there will never be any real discussion of what he did, and how this same scenario plays out many times across the country (a public DV murder/suicide just happened in Raleigh, NC about two months ago).

      Will that happen with this story as well?. Possibly (likely?). If the perpetrator is also dead, and people feel comfortable in not “taking sides” b/c there is no trial, it just seems we all move on pretty quickly from these stories. Which is too bad, b/c it is an opportunity to talk about these issues (needed, if we don’t want them to happen again). I don’t know much about the football/head trauma connection, but that seems worthwhile to examine if that is the case. I do know a lot about DV, and, personally, I think there can never be too much discussion around the issue of DV if we want to stop it – it is such a complex issue, and it takes a lot of effort, and (really) constant repeated messaging to understand all of those complexities. And this sounds it might be one of those complex stories. But I am guessing we will just skip over this in a few days until the next one…

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