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Kansas City mourns loss of local reporter after stray bullet strikes her in apartment


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    KANSAS CITY, Missouri (KCTV, KSMO) — Police say a woman is on life support after she was struck by a bullet on Friday evening in the 2900 block of Lockridge.

The victim is on life-support according to police and they have not confirmed the identity.

KCUR, the NPR station in Kansas City, reports the victim was Aviva Okeson-Haberman. They also report that she has died as a result from the injuries.

In their report, they say the death resulted from a “bullet that pierced one of the windows of her first-floor apartment in the Santa Fe neighborhood.”

“Aviva was brilliant,” KCUR news director Lisa Rodriguez said in a statement. “Even as an intern, her approach to storytelling and her ability to hold those in power accountable paralleled many a veteran reporter. She was quiet, which made it all the more satisfying to hear her challenge politicians and hold her ground, even when people in positions of great power tried to belittle her.”

Sarah Morris, the station’s general manager, issued this statement:

Our KCUR family is heartbroken over the tragic loss of our talented colleague, Aviva. Her obituary that was written by her grieving colleagues captures so much about her bright spirit and promising future. While Aviva’s family, friends and colleagues are devastated by this, our grief is no more significant than all the other families who are suffering over the loss of their loved ones due to senseless gun violence.

The best way we can honor Aviva is through our continued commitment to serving the greater Kansas City community through our journalism.

She graduated from the University of Missouri’s school of journalism in 2019.

Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas said she was “creative, thorough, challenging and insight reporter.”

“Always prepared, she told the full and complex story of our city in one of the most challenging years in its history,” Lucas said. “Her death lays bare our gravest unsolved epidemic and the preventable tragedies too many families endure.”

Aviva started her career as a political reporter at the station in 2019, but her work made waves even as a student journalist.

“She was the best student reporter I’ve ever worked with. And I’ve worked with hundreds of student reporters, obviously that’s not a small statement. It’s just a fact that she was incredibly talented and incredibly driven,” Ryan Famuliner, news director of KBIA-FM in Columbia said.

Famuliner said Aviva didn’t seem like a student during the time he supervised her as a student journalist.

“She was working at a professional level and a very high professional level at that,” he said.

While attending the Missouri School of Journalism, Aviva and another reporter did an investigative story revealing that many calls to Missouri’s hotline for elder abuse often went unanswered.

“The day they published that story, the state Attorney General launched an investigation and later instituted changes,” Famuliner said.

It was impactful work like that story that earned her a long list of prestigious awards; from winning the Hearst Awards competition, which Famuliner called “sort of the Heisman Trophy of college journalists,” to regional Edward R. Murrow awards, to national recognition from the Society of Professional Journalists.

“A decades worth of awards as a student. Just an unbelievable amount of really, really good work just in the short amount of time I was able to work with her,” Famuliner said.

That caliber of work continued at KCUR in Kansas City.

Though colleagues describe her as quiet and unassuming, she wasn’t afraid of asking tough questions.

It’s not just her family, friends and colleagues praising her work, but those she was could be critical of in her reporting.

The station also notes that she covered “corruption in Clay County and medical marijuana to the conflicting pandemic restrictions in differing Kansas City area cities and inequities in the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.”

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Article Topic Follows: National & World

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