A 20-year-old man has pleaded guilty in the 2019 fatal shooting of a woman who was struck by a bullet near food trucks at a First Friday event in Kansas City.
Deon’te Copkney, of Kansas City, pleaded guilty Thursday to second-degree murder and armed criminal action in the Aug. 3, 2019, killing of 25-year-old Erin Langhofer, of Overland Park, according to the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office.
Langhofer was out that night with her boyfriend when she was struck by a bullet from the gunfire that erupted after 10 p.m. near 18th and Main streets in the Crossroads Arts District.
The area was still crowded with thousands of people from First Friday activities. People scattered in different directions when the gunshots rang out. A food truck operator said he “didn’t see anything except for people running for their lives.”
As officers made their way to the shooting scene, they found Langhofer, who had been shot in the head. She was not involved in a fight that the gunshots stemmed from, police said.
After the gunshots, officers chased three people seen running north on Walnut Street from 18th Street. One of them, later identified as Copkney, stopped and dropped a handgun before lying on the ground, according to police.
Copkney allegedly told detectives he was with friends when a fight broke out between him and a man in another group. Copkney said the man “jumped him.” When the fight broke up, the groups took off running in opposite directions, police said. While he was running, Copkney allegedly said, he turned around and fired the gun “into the air” and “emptied his clip.”
Then 18, Copkney told police he didn’t intend to hurt anyone. He told police he was the only person to shoot, prosecutors said.
Two vehicles parked in the area were struck by bullets.
Langhofer had a blossoming career as a therapist who advocated for survivors of domestic violence, her relatives remembered. She was the daughter of a pastor of recovery ministries at the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood.
In a statement, the Langhofer family called Copkney’s guilty plea “a hollow victory,” saying the situation represents an outcome in which no one wins.
“Erin’s death continues to have ripple effects throughout the community, and the loss of her still feels unfathomable to all who knew and loved her best,” the family said. “We miss her every minute of every day.”
Copkney will be sentenced July 23.
The Star’s Bill Lukitsch contributed to this report.
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