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Kansas City journalist killed by stray bullet in her apartment

A 24-year-old journalist for a Kansas City public radio station died this weekend after apparently being struck by a stray bullet that pierced a window in her apartment. 

Aviva Okeson-Haberman, a journalist for Kansas City’s NPR station KCUR, was found in her first-flood apartment Friday afternoon by a concerned colleague, after she stopped responding to messages. 

After she was found unconscious in her apartment, Okeson-Haberman was transported to Truman Medical Centers. She died Sunday from the gunshot wound, her station reported

Okeson-Haberman joined KCUR in June 2019 after graduating from the Missouri School of Journalism at the University of Missouri. The station described her as “sweet, kind and gracious,” and her reporting as “thoughtful, aggressive and compassionate.” 

“She was an especially beloved friend and colleague just beginning what promised to be a brilliant career,” the station said. 

Aviva Okeson-Haberman joined KCUR in June 2019 as the Missouri politics and government reporter, having interned at the station a year earlier and “impressed the newsroom with her work ethic, diligence, conscientiousness and eagerness to learn,” the station said. 

Brandon Parigo / University Of Missouri-Kansas City / KCUR

“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.”

Just hours before her death, Okeson-Haberman was looking at apartments in Lawrence, Kansas. She was preparing to transition to a new role covering social issues and criminal justice. 

Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas and Kansas Governor Laura Kelly were among the many people who expressed condolences on Twitter following Okeson-Haberman’s death. 

Aviva Okeson-Haberman won numerous awards during her brief reporting career.

Brandon Parigo / KCUR

“Aviva was a creative, thorough, challenging, and insightful reporter.  Always prepared, she told the full and complex story of our city in one of the most challenging years in its history. Her life showed us her compassion for those who too often were voiceless,” Lucas tweeted. “Her death lays bare our gravest unsolved epidemic and the preventable tragedies too many families endure. I will miss Aviva. My heart and my thoughts go to her family, her friends, her colleagues, and a community that respected her and will miss out on all she had to share ahead.” 

“My thoughts and condolences are with Aviva’s family, loved ones, and everyone at KCUR,” Kelly tweeted.

“I can’t even begin to express the right emotion for this loss,” Clay County Sheriff Will Akin tweeted. “Her professionalism in the world of journalism was hardly matched. Aviva, you are already missed.”

The single bullet hole can be seen from outside her apartment building in the Santa Fe neighborhood. The investigation is ongoing. 

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