A 22-year-old man has been arrested in the fatal shooting of 4-year-old LeGend Taliferro, who was killed while sleeping inside his family’s apartment.
Ryson Ellis is now facing charges of second-degree murder, unlawful use of a weapon and two counts of armed criminal action after investigators said he stood outside the Kansas City apartment complex and fired through a wood privacy fence and sliding glass doors of an apartment, striking LeGend who had been asleep inside on the floor of the home, according to charging documents obtained by Oxygen.com.
Taliferro’s June 29 death inspired a large, and controversial, federal policing operation across the country, known as Operation LeGend.
The shooting seemed to be prompted by a dispute between Ellis and LeGend’s aunt, who had been asleep on a couch inside the apartment at the time of the fatal shooting.
She told investigators that she and Ellis, who was the father of her baby, had gotten into an argument days earlier on June 23 when “Ellis assaulted her by striking her in the head at their residence in Kansas City,” according to the court documents.
The woman told police Ellis had “yanked” the baby out of her arms and left.
She later told her mother and brothers—including LeGend’s father—about the alleged altercation and her brothers went to confront Ellis and his brother.
“An altercation ensued between Ellis and the witness’s brothers,” the documents said. “During this altercation Ellis was injured.”
The fight broke up when Ellis’ mother allegedly pulled out a long gun and threatened the men. LeGend’s aunt took her baby and the family left—but tensions remained high between the two families.
LeGend’s aunt filed a police report about the incident and told authorities she was afraid Ellis would harm her and said she had been staying at her mother’s house out of fear. She also provided police with Facebook messages she had allegedly received from Ellis’ asking where her brother was and telling her to “pop out.”
The woman also allegedly received a threatening text message from Ellis’ mom.
“You motherf---ers better be glad that gun was on safety cuz just imagine somebody would have been dead who goes to people’s houses like that y’all fight all the f---ing time now you want to put your peoples in it now it’s not a game,” a portion of the text message said, according to the charging documents.
The message also said the family knew “where your mama stay.”
Police obtained surveillance footage from the night of the fatal shooting that showed a vehicle carrying at least two people in the area around the time the shots were fired.
The vehicle was determined to be a rental and authorities were able to track down the woman who had been driving the car from June 23 to July 3.
After she was placed under arrest, she agreed to provide a statement to police that said on the night of the murder she had a party at her residence. After the party, she told police that she, another witness and Ellis went to the Rendezvous Lounge.
On their way home, she said Ellis asked if they could stop by the Citadel Apartments. She agreed because she said the stop wasn’t out of her way.
When they arrived, she said Ellis got out of the car and she heard “gunshots and Ellis came running back to the vehicle,” according to the charging documents. The woman told police she didn’t hear that someone had been killed until later.
After news of the arrest was announced, Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas addressed the tragedy on Twitter.
"While my heart continues to break for LeGend’s family, I am thankful that today an important step towards justice has been taken,” he wrote. “Thank you for the hard investigative work of the women and men of law enforcement and the prosecutors with a heavy task ahead.”
Prosecutors plan to request that Ellis be held without bond, according to a statement from the Jackson County Prosecutor’s office.
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