Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Blair Lane



Sullivan tells Blair Lane's parents: "I'm truly, deeply sorry"


A former part-time employee of an east Kansas City apartment complex has been charged in connection with the fatal Fourth of July shooting of an 11-year-old girl.

Aaron Sullivan, 50, turned himself into authorities Thursday afternoon. Authorities say he and three others were firing Sullivan's weapon and one of the bullets traveled across the lake and struck Blair Shanahan Lane in the neck on the Fourth of July. She died the next day.

"We just made a stupid mistake," Sullivan told reporters. "It was a terrible accident."

Sullivan's brother and teen son journeyed with him to the Kan as City jail. Sullivan became emotional when saying as parent he knows the pain that Blair's family is enduring.

"I'm sorry," he said. "I knew it was wrong and I just want to tell the family from the bottom of my heart, I'm sorry."

He later said he was "truly, deeply sorry."

However, he said he hopes that his gun was not the one that fired the fatal shot.

But Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker says it is. She announced Thursday morning that Sullivan has been charged with involuntary manslaughter and armed criminal action. Prosecutors are asking for a $25,000 bond for Sullivan.

When the charges were announced at the morning news conference, Blair's mother briefly spoke - her few words echoed of gratitude to investigators now that someone would have to answer to her daughter's death.

"Thank you.  Thank you for being here for us," said Michele Shanahan.

Court papers say Sullivan was monitoring the pool at the Whispering Lakes apartments on East 43rd Street that evening.  It's about 1000 feet away from where the stray bullet came down.

Three others were with Sullivan that night but no charges have been filed against him. The prosecutor said she charged Sullivan because he owned the gun and he fired the weapon.

"We can hold someone responsible because an 11-year-old girl lost her life. For this action we can hold him responsible, because someone died, an innocent girl playing on the Fourth of July. That's why we have a charge because the result was so horrendous - a death," the prosecutor said.

Sullivan also stressed that there was no malicious intent, but the four should have known better.

"We are not mad-dog killers," said Sullivan, who was wearing a white T-shirt and a white hat with a black band when he turned himself in. He chewed on a toothpick as he spoke.

Sullivan said he voluntarily turned himself in because he had been wracked with guilt and had been unable to eat or sleep.

"I know I did something stupid. I am ready to face the consequences," Sullivan said. "I know we shouldn't have been doing that."

Family members and former neighbors say Sullivan is a hard-working man who was nice and never in trouble.

Missouri Rep. Mike Talboy, a Kansas City Democrat, announced Thursday that he will ask the Missouri General Assembly to make it a felony to fire a gun recklessly in a populated area. He calls it Blair's Law.

A spokesman for Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon said the governor has not spoken to Talboy about the legislation and thus it would be premature for him to comment on it.



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