KANSAS CITY, Mo (Reuters) - The weekend shooting of three teenagers at a large late-night “flash mob” gathering prompted local authorities to pass an ordinance on Thursday that sets curfews as early as 9 p.m. for people under age 18.
At the urging of Mayor Sly James, the Kansas City Council passed the ordinance 13-0, allowing police to issue citations to parents whose children violate the curfew. Parents can be fined up to $500 per violation.
Three youths aged 13 to 16 were injured by apparently random gunshots at about 11:30 p.m. on Saturday night in an upscale shopping and restaurant district called Country Club Plaza.
James was nearby when the shots rang out and says his bodyguards shoved him down into a flower bed to keep him safe.
There have been other so-called “flash mob” gatherings of youngsters in Kansas City in recent years, but the weekend shootings pushed the issue to the top of the council’s agenda.
No arrests have been made in Saturday’s incident and the shooting victims are recovering.
While the proposed curfew may not be popular, James said his message to youths is clear.
“I care enough about you that I want you to be safe,” he said.
James noted that local police were present in the area both on foot and horseback on Saturday when shots were fired. James also said he had been present in the area that night specifically to observe the gatherings.
Local community leaders have been critical of parents who allow children as young as 10 years old to roam around late at night. James said he spoke Saturday night with one 13-year-old girl he described as well-spoken and bright.
“She had no idea when her mother was going to pick her up,” James said.
Passage of an ordinance so quickly is unusual, but council members said they had feared a repeat of potentially dangerous gatherings this weekend.
“It’s important we send a swift and bold message to parents that your kids should be home,” said City Councilwoman Cindy Circo.
A curfew of 9 p.m. will apply from late May through September in five Kansas City entertainment areas. Elsewhere in the city, the curfew will be 10 p.m. for children 15 and under and 11 p.m. for those 16 and 17.
At other times of the year, the curfew will be 11 p.m. on weeknights and midnight on weekends for everyone under age 18.
Editing by Peter Bohan