Person allegedly fired BB gun at patrons of KC LGBTQ bar, stoking fear before pride parade

Sean Arkin/BRP Architects

Kansas City police are investigating after someone allegedly fired a pellet or BB gun toward the doors of a popular LGBTQ venue in Kansas City’s Westport neighborhood early Sunday.

Police responded to a 911 call outside Fountain Haus on the corner of Westport Road and Broadway just after 1 a.m. Sunday, said Sgt. Jake Becchina, a spokesman with the Kansas City Police Department.

One of the victims told police they were standing outside the front door of Fountain Haus when they felt a pain in their arm that they believe came from a pellet shot from a pellet gun, Becchina said. The victim didn’t require medical attention.

Detectives with KCPD’s assault unit are investigating what happened, Becchina said. Anyone who was in the area around 1 a.m. Sunday who saw or heard anything is asked to call detectives at 816-234-5227 or the anonymous TIPS Hotline at 816-474-TIPS.

Becchina said the police department “will maintain contact with the FBI as the investigation unfolds.”

“Our LGBTQ+ Liaison officer has already been in touch with the management for the establishment,” Becchina said. “They have discussed safety for the bar moving forward and he is keeping them in the loop on the investigation.”

Fountain Haus is one of the largest “queer and ally spaces” in the Midwest. On Saturday morning, the Kansas City Pride Parade kicks off at the intersection where Fountain Haus sits.

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Justin Short, a former commissioner with the Kansas City LGBTQ Commission, posted a screenshot of an email on Twitter Sunday that he said was from Jayson Morgan, a manager at Fountain Haus. Short provided a copy of the email to The Star. Morgan did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Morgan told Short that at the time of the shooting, there was a line of people waiting outside the entrance to Fountain Haus.

“Someone drove by with a BB Gun and shot up our whole line. Of course this caused a lot of distress and instilled a lot of fear as it cleared out our whole line,” Morgan wrote. “Thank goodness nobody was hurt, but considering our proximity to Pride next weekend we must consider this a threat that can escalate.”

Morgan said he is hoping to figure out how to protect customers ahead of Pride weekend in case something similar, or worse, was to happen.

Hate crimes against members of the LGBTQ community have been on the rise. Between 2020 and 2021, there was a 70% increase in the number of reported incidents targeting LGBTQ people, according to FBI data.

Meanwhile, a wave of anti-LGBTQ laws are moving through Republican-controlled legislatures across the country — most often targeting transgender youth — including in Kansas and Missouri.

The Kansas Legislature recently overrode Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly’s veto to prohibit transgender women from participating in school sports. In Missouri, a bill on Gov. Mike Parson’s desk would prohibit Missouri Medicaid from covering hormones, puberty blockers and surgeries for gender transitioning.

In response, Kansas City Council recently declared Kansas City a safe haven for gender-affirming health care in Missouri.

Morgan said he takes any threats against the LGBTQ community seriously, but especially in light of the current political climate.

Justice Horn, chair of KC’s LGBTQ Commission, said the immediate focus in Kansas City should be on making sure the investigation continues moving forward while also figuring out a security plan for next week’s pride festivities so the LGBTQ community feels safe during Pride month.

“This kind of thing is like a pressure cooker. It’s only a matter of time before something absolutely devastating happens in Kansas City, and it’s up to leaders like us to put a stop to it,” Short said.