A 22-year-old man has been arrested in the fatal shooting of 4-year-old LeGend Taliferro, a death that sparked indignation and grief in a city that’s seen more than 120 homicides this year.
Ryson Ellis is charged with second-degree murder, unlawful use of a weapon and two counts of armed criminal action, Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker announced at a press conference, with Taliferro’s parents by her side.
LeGend was shot in the early hours of June 29 when Ellis "cowardly fired multiple rounds into the back of the apartment where LeGend was believed to be safely inside, asleep as we would all expect. And some of those shots, we now know, killed this beautiful little boy,” Baker said.
Baker credited the arrest to a witness who stepped forward with information. Kansas City has seen high homicide rates in the past, she said, but this summer is even beyond earlier years.
“It's not new to see this kind of horrific bloodshed and death, but this summer is different,” Baker said. “This summer the numbers are historic and the toll of these killings leaves many of us in this room heartbroken. I fear that leaves some of us even calloused.”
LeGend’s mother, Charron Powell, said she’s “in the steps to justice” but called it a “lose situation” for her family and the family of the young man accused of killing her son.
“As a community, I appreciate you guys for stepping up, but now we gotta take it a step farther and help calm the violence down… and to stop things like this from happening,” Powell said.
“It's still rough just to imagine, to know that I don't have my son anymore, to wake up at night, feel his presence or even hearing the voice is one of the hardest things for us.”
After LeGend’s death, a federal anti-crime initiative was named after him, drawing a mixed response locally. There have been more than 200 arrests made under Operation LeGend, including 16 related to homicides, Don Ledford, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney in Kansas City, said Thursday.
Ellis was arrested in Oklahoma and will be held without bond in the Jackson County Detention Center.
Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas issued a statement late Thursday, saying he appreciated the person who came forward, helping the family get a degree of closure.
“LeGend Taliferro deserved to be able to grow up,” Lucas said. “While I am glad justice has been served, our community, and a good family, continue to mourn his life cut far too short by violent crime.”