Kansas City community grieves fatal shooting of 8-year-old boy

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KANSAS CITY  -- Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department detectives canvassed the south Kansas City block Monday where Brian Bartlett was killed in a hail of gunfire that pierced his bedroom late Saturday, exactly one month before his ninth birthday.

"I'd hear gunshots every once in a while, but I never thought anyone would be killed, especially on this block," Louis Garrett, a neighbor said.

Neighbors would often see the 8-year-old boy and his mom, who was shot in the leg during the incident, walking to the store and to Center Elementary School.

"Always had a smile on his face, loved learning, loved robotics, he was a member of the third grade robotics team with his teacher that he would have linked up with just a joy to have," Stacy King, director of family and student services for the Center School District said.

Bartlett's aunt, Rochelle Thomas, told 41 Action News over the phone her nephew called her on Saturday, hours before the shooting, to let her know he got a haircut and was ready to start the fourth grade.

School leaders are now preparing to deal with grief-stricken classmates.

"To be as transparent as we can be so we can help them and support them through that process," King said.

For some assistance the Center School District is partnering up with Solace House, an organization that comforts individuals who've been impacted by death.

"Kids of this developmental age don't have a lot of experience with death, so them finding out that somebody has died as a result of gunfire they don't know what that means," Lisa Templeton-Farmer, director of grief programs for Solace House said. "Someone that's from outside their community, sometimes the kids will feel a little more free to ask and say the things that are on their mind."

The district is seeking ways to honor the young boy who is described as an exceptionally bright student whose life was cut short.

"We will rally together, we will support one another, we will support our students and we will be ready on Wednesday to welcome them with open arms," King said.

The district plans to have grief counselors on hand for the first day of school on Wednesday, but also at an open house set for Tuesday evening.

A GoFundMe campaign has been set up to help with funeral expenses and to transport the boy's body to California where he's originally from.

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