Family devastated by violence that took Hernandez-Gonzalez’ life

Mariana Hernandez-Gonzalez, 35-year-old mother of six children, spent the last hours of her life doing what she loved—spending time with her family.

Her children’s’ laughter and games brought a smile to her face as they raced around a local park. The children probably protested as she and her husband, Julio Gonzalez, told them to pick up their things as they planned to head home. No one could have predicted the danger and tragedy that laid ahead.

As they drove home, a rolling gun battle between two vehicles intersected their vehicle at East 9th Street and Hardesty Avenue in Kansas City, Missouri northeast side. Their SUV was hit by one of the suspects’ cars and the SUV slammed into a traffic pole flipping their car and ejecting Hernandez-Gonzalez.

The suspects in the gun battle fled the scene. According to Sgt. Kari Thompson, KCPD Media Unit, there was a police chase with a vehicle after the accident.

Family members in the car had critical injuries and Mariana died as a result of her injuries she sustained in the auto accident.

Homicides in Kansas City, Missouri this year currently stands at 72 compared to last year at this time, the city had 57.

This news is not comforting to Dedra Ferguson who lives close to the 9th and Hardesty Avenue intersection. She has lived in the community less than a year but has become accustomed to hearing gunshots every night.

“It is sad to say that you get used to hearing gunshots and police driving by your house in high speed chases,” she said.

She heard the gunshots two weeks ago as two cars raced by her neighborhood. She will never forget what followed that evening at 9 p.m. when her husband, brother-in-law and herself stepped out to check on their vehicles.

A blood-curling scream pierced the night and it is a sound that she can’t get out of her head.

“I heard this scream for help over and over and it sounded like a little kid. My husband, my brother-in-law and I took off to see what happen. We saw her (Mariana) on the ground and one of her sons was holding onto her. I got him away from his mom and my husband tried to revive her. The little boy kept asking me if his mom was ok and he struggled with me to get back to her,” said Ferguson.

She called 911 for help and they tried to get the others out of the vehicle but couldn’t. “I was surprised that no one stopped to help as they drove by the scene. People just kept trying to drive through the street,” said Ferguson.

Her heart breaks for the family and the children that lost their mother through an act of violence. She hopes that the community will work together to stop the violence but worries that it won’t happen.

“I have three children and it isn’t a safe environment for them to be around. I don’t even let them play outside unless I am right there. Because of the nightly gunshots I am looking to move,” she said.

Viviana Santos traveled from Iowa to attend her cousin, Mariana, funeral last week. “It was a shock,” she said. When the news finally set in, her only other thoughts were about her cousins’ six children.

“All I could think about was those six babies.”

She started a GoFundMe account to help raise money to pay for funeral expenses and medical bills. According to Santos, some of the children may face surgery in the near future due to the injuries they received in the car accident.

Santos remembers her cousin as very outgoing, fun-loving and family oriented individual. “It has been hard. We are all in shock and we still can’t believe this happened to her. Her older children are very quiet right now and don’t want to talk to anyone. They just want their mom back,” said Santos.

Jennifer Miller, Victim Advocate with the Kansas City, Missouri Police Department, works with individuals and families that have been victims of violent crimes.

“It makes you angry, it makes you sad, it scares some people that your kids are not safe going to school, riding in a car or sitting on your front porch,” said Miller.

She is working with Andrea Morales, Clinical Director at Mattie Rhodes Counseling, to reach out to the Hernandez-Gonzalez family to help them locate resources for funeral expenses, medical bills and counseling.

“I work with the Latino Advocacy Task Force and we attempt to reach out to the family and offer them support in multiple ways. We offer therapeutic support, talking with a counselor, we also hold prayer vigils, we help families with fundraisers for funerals or other costs that come from tragic incidents,” said Morales.

According to Miller, the two organizations have programs in place to assist victim families but if people in the community would like to help the Hernandez-Gonzalez family or other families that are victims of violent crimes, they can contact Mattie Rhodes or Millers’ office at the Kansas City, Missouri Police Department.

The police department is still investigating the case of Hernandez-Gonzalez. They are asking the public to contact them with any information they may have pertaining to the case.

According to Sgt. Kari Thompson, “There was a lot of evidence at the scene and we are still investigating the case. We have a couple of good leads. We have compiled our information, and with our witnesses and tips that have been called into the Hotline, we are hoping to make an arrest with great charges attached to them very soon.”

Each time a homicide takes place people in the community tend to get on Social Media and spread their comments across the Internet.

“This happens on every case unfortunately because people want to put in their two cents and they know nothing,” said Miller.

Miller and Morales tell families to stay off of social media after the loss of a loved one because people put out false information and statements about the victims or case that can be very hurtful to the survivors.

“We want to remind people that we (police) do the investigations. We talk to people, if you hear something, call the police and talk to us and if you don’t want to give your name call the TIPS hotline. People need to understand that what they are reading on Social Media that people put up is not factual. People need to keep clear heads, bring the information to the police and let the police investigate,” said Miller.

Morales agrees that social media can be hurtful and wishes that people didn’t put up comments that are untrue about the victim, the families or statements about the crime.

“We need to step back and look at the bigger picture of not allowing the violence to happen and to continue to happen. That shouldn’t take away from the pain that the families are experiencing,” said Morales.

This case is still under investigation and if you have information pertaining to the crime, contact the police.

Call the TIPS Hotline (816) 474-TIPS or text your information to TIP452 plus your message to CRIMES (274637). You may remain anonymous.

A GoFundMe account has been set up to help the Hernandez-Gonzalez family with funeral expenses and medical bills. If you would like to make a donation for the family, go to www.gofundme.com