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ShotSpotter alerted police to 71-Highway homicide before anyone called 911

March 01, 2017
Fox 4: Kansas City

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Police say a man shot and killed along 71 Highway Tuesday night may be the victim of a rolling gun battle.

Police found the man's body slumped over behind the wheel of a pickup truck near 41st Street and Euclid Avenue.

Police say the city's ShotSpotter technology first alerted them to the shooting, detecting five shots along the Bruce Watkins highway just after 6:15 p.m.

Several rounds of gunfire set off 71 Highway homicide investigation where man was found dead in truck

Detectives worked for hours collecting evidence, including shell casings, from the northbound lanes, stretching from 43rd Street to 39th Street.

The $700,000 ShotSpotter technology alerted police to the exchange of gunfire before anyone called 911.

"The great thing about it is a lot of times we won’t get calls in regard to shots being fired," said Darin Snapp of the KCPD. "So ShotSpotter is our only witness, if you will, in regard to it. It leads us to within feet of where the shot was actually fired."

The sensors are deployed near the Troost MAX bus line, covering an area of 3.5 square miles. The technology can distinguish between a car backfiring or fireworks and actual gunshots.

In neighborhoods with the listening devices, those living nearby say the technology makes them feel safer.

"We are very fortunate that we have those," said Walter May of the Ivanhoe Neighborhood Council. "There’s been other incidents where the ShotSpotters have actually alerted police and they were able to go, and if nothing more to find the victim and then be able to take some steps and be able to find whoever the person was that shot that individual."

When it was first activated in 2012, ShotSpotters detected 1,200 reports of gunfire in the first nine months.

Between 2013 and 2014 the manufacturer says reported incidents of gunfire in Kansas City dropped nearly 26 percent in urban core neighborhoods covered by the ShotSpotter.