As a high school student, Blaize Madrid-Evans talked often about his career plans: joining the military after graduation and becoming a combat medic.
He took courses at Smithville High School and participated in activities towards that goal, including separate internships at a health care facility and a fire department.
But after he graduated in 2018, he decided on a career in law enforcement. Within a few years, at the age of 22, he was setting out for the first time to patrol the streets of Independence.
On Wednesday, after 18 days on patrol, he was fatally wounded during an exchange of gun fire with a man being sought for violating parole on a firearm conviction.
Accompanied by his field training officer, he had responded around noon to a residence in the 2440 block of South Northern Boulevard. Police received a tip that a man accused of violating his parole for a firearm conviction was inside of the residence.
Once there, Madrid-Evans was shot by another man, who was also killed. The suspect, identified by authorities as Cody L. Harrison, 33, died at the scene.
Madrid-Evans had just graduated from the Kansas City Regional Police Academy in July, said Officer Jack Taylor, an Independence police spokesman. He was engaged to be married.
On Friday, former teachers and school administrators remembered Madrid-Evans as a thoughtful, considerate student who delighted in serving others. He volunteered at a Smithville nursing home.
“Blaize was an amazing kid and he was always kind and caring,” said Mindy Lloyd, a spokeswoman for the Smithville School District. “He had a genuine heart. It is a loss to our community. It is a loss to law enforcement as a whole.”
“We need police officers like Blaize Madrid-Evans. He is an amazing person, with such a great heart,” she said.
Smithville school officials scheduled a moment of silence in honor of Madrid-Evans during Friday night’s football against Raytown South High School. Relatives and officers from the Independence Police Department were scheduled to attend, Lloyd said.
Funeral and memorial services remained pending on Friday.
New high school, new goals
Madrid-Evans transferred from the Platte County High School to Smithville High School just before his high school junior year. He has a younger sister who graduated from Smithville High School last year, Lloyd said.
He had already mapped out plans to pursue a career as a military medic when he signed up for the Northland Center for Advanced Professional Studies (Northland CAPS), an internship program where students learn about career options while being embedded in different local businesses.
Madrid-Evans wanted to enroll in the medical classes but those slots had already filled up. Wanting to remain in the CAPS program, Madrid-Evans took classes in the global business strand.
He completed projects in the global business strand and interned with Mosaic Life Care in the Northland.
It was during his junior year, Madrid-Evans was one of six students from his class selected to give “Ted Talks” for an event that was held at the Mid-Continent Public Library.
Madrid-Evans talked about the challenges of being part of a blended family, living in a small town and being raised by two moms.
“He thought it wasn’t anything different, but it just showcased how he is and how his spirit is,” Clemens said. “It was an interesting snapshot into him and how he got to where he was.”
‘Often with a cup of coffee’
As a high school senior, Madrid-Evans secured a spot in the medical strand and completed an internship with the Gladstone Fire Department.
He was also a member of Interact, a high school community organization that performed volunteer work at various public service agencies in the Northland. Members frequently visited a Golden Living Center, where students played bingo and participated in other activities with the center’s residents.
Alex Houck, who was Mardid-Evans’s English teacher during his junior year said he remembered him as a student who welcomed a challenge and wasn’t afraid of hard work.
“I will always remember Blaize as the young man who always worked to do his best work. He wasn’t competitive with others — he was competitive with himself,” Houck said in a statement.
Smithville High School social studies teacher Katy Minnix said Madrid-Evans was among one of the first students in her classroom at the start of the school day and, “often with a cup of coffee.”
“His positive energy was extraordinary for a high schooler at 7:45 in the morning,” Minnix said in an email.
Madrid-Evans would ask a lot of great questions because he just really liked people and wanted to understand them better, she said.
“He was so genuinely kind and had the best sense of humor. He is a student that I have often thought about since he graduated. He was just a joy to have in the classroom and in our school community,” Minnix said.
The statement Friday said both agencies agreed to examine opportunities to work together to ensure all dangerous offenders are appropriately addressed.
“When faced with a tragedy like this we are called upon to improve ways to intervene and prevent senseless gun violence in our community,” the statement said.
Authorities said the man who shot Madrid-Evans had been arrested on Sept. 2 on suspicion of being a felon in possession of a firearm but he was released on his own recognizance.
It was not until Sept. 7 that Kansas City submitted a case to Jackson County prosecutors. Prosecutors said they did not receive the case until Sept. 9, when Harrison had been out of custody for several days.
On Monday, an arrest warrant was issued for Harrison in another case. Charged with second-degree burglary and stealing after he was accused of breaking into a business in Grain Valley. Harrison failed to appear for a hearing in late August.
Harrison had been sentenced in 2011 to 15 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to a firearms charge in Clay County. He was on parole for the Clay County conviction at the time of the shooting earlier this week in Independence, prosecutors said.