Kansas City, MO – A woman whose brothers were murdered in two separate attacks tracked down one of their alleged killers on her own and fatally shot him, according to police.
Police said Tityana Coppage, 21, then sent a text message to her deceased brother to let him know she had avenged his death, KCTV reported.
Jason Ugwuh, Coppage’s 16-year-old brother, was fatally shot near Topping Avenue and Paloma Avenue on Jan. 10.
Ugwuh, a Hogan Preparatory Academy junior, was also a standout basketball player, KCTV reported.
According to investigators, Coppage managed to track down Ugwuh’s alleged killer and confronted him in a parking lot near Benton Boulevard and Thompson Avenue on Jan. 13.
Police later identified him as 36-year-old Keith Lars, KSHB reported.
Coppage allegedly shot Lars before fleeing the scene in a black Ford Escape, KCTV reported.
Lars’ brother drove him a short distance away from the scene of the confrontation, then stopped in the middle of the road and called for help.
Emergency medical personnel responded to the scene and discovered Ugwuh’s accused killer had died from gunshot wounds to his leg and chest, according to police.
Investigators used surveillance footage and witness statements to track down Coppage, KCTV reported.
She allegedly confessed to having called Lars in what she claimed was an attempt to establish a truce between the suspect and Coppage’s father, police said.
Coppage said she was afraid that her father and the man were going to kill one another if she didn’t intervene.
She allegedly told investigators that she fired at her brother’s alleged killer in self-defense after he began shooting at her, KCTV reported.
According to police, witnesses said Lars fired at the black SUV after someone inside the vehicle started shooting at him, KSHB reported.
Investigators recovered a total of 23 shell casings belonging to two different weapons.
Police said forensics and ballistic examinations revealed that the gun Coppage was in possession of was the same weapon that was used to shoot Lars, according to KCTV.
According to investigators, Coppage sent a text to Ugwuh’s phone after shooting Lars.
“Sent a N—r to my brother I owe em that body,” the message read, according to Newsweek.
Coppage has been arrested on charges of armed criminal action and second-degree murder, according to KSHB.
Coppage and Ugwuh’s nine-year-old brother, Jayden Ugwuh, was killed in 2016 when an unknown gunman fired into the family’s home, KCTV reported.
Their eight-year-old cousin, Montell Ross, was also fatally shot in the attack.
The person responsible for Jayden and Montell’s murders has never been found, KCTV reported.
Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas said that Coppage’s arrest proves that more needs to be done to help victims of gun violence and their families, WDAF reported.
“We also need to make sure that before someone is picking up that firearm to get justice as they see it, they know there’s a different outlet, they know that there’s someone to talk to, there’s someone who cares about the pain that they and their family have experienced,” Lucas told the news outlet. “That’s the sort of work that we need to do more of in Kansas City.”
Ad Hoc Group Against Crime President Damon Daniel said that those who suffer or witness traumatic events go through profound changes as a result, WDAF reported.
“When you suffer from a traumatic event, particularly a violent event, it does something to you,” Daniel explained. “It changes you, especially if you were a witness to it. And so, if you’re a witness to a violent crime, you may not immediately notice the changes, but over time, it festers itself. And for everyone it manifests itself differently.”
He said Coppage’s family is one of many who are suffering as a result of such incidents.
“This family is not alone. There are so many others that are out here that are crying out every day and whose moms or dads and brothers or sisters are aching with pain because they’ve just not received justice,” Daniel told WDAF. “They don’t have that sense of closure.”
He said more needs to be done to provide services to help end retaliation attacks.