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Gangbangers flood KC Zoo for free admission day. Fights, gunshots ensue.


From Missouri News Leader…

Kansas City Zoo officials and the city’s mayor don’t want to see an end to free-admission days at the zoo, but after several fights broke out Tuesday, followed by gunshots in the facility’s parking lot, they say something needs to change.

No injuries were reported after the shots were fired as people were leaving the zoo near its 4 p.m. closing time, The Kansas City Star (http://bit.ly/1kHVKiv) reported. The shooter hasn’t been found.

The zoo offers four free-admission days per year as thanks to voters in Clay and Jackson counties for approving a 1/8-cent sales tax in 2011 to help fund the zoo. Last year similar fights broke out during a free day in April that was held on a weekend, so zoo officials moved this year’s free days to Tuesdays.

With local schools out for spring break and weather warming up into the 60s, roughly 19,000 people turned out Tuesday — many of whom came later in the day when the zoo reported it was admitting 4,000 an hour into the park.

“The zoo just cannot handle that many people,” zoo director Randy Wisthoff said. “It just gets too crowded. The pathways are too small.”

Last April, attendance was estimated at more than 29,000 on a Sunday free-admission day when violence also broke out.

Several witnesses Tuesday described a chaotic scene of brawls and gunshots. Among them was Kristi Sharp Patterson, who was leaving with her children when she saw people on the ground in handcuffs and crowds gathering around.

“Next thing you know shots were fired in the parking lot right in front of the zoo and everyone started screaming and running in every direction,” Patterson told The Star. “By far the scariest experience ever.”