A 24-year-old journalist in Missouri was killed after being hit by a stray bullet that shot through her apartment window, according to the victim’s colleagues.
Aviva Okeson-Haberman, a reporter at public radio station KCUR, was struck by a bullet that came through the window on the first floor of her apartment on Friday afternoon in Kansas City, according to the news station KMBC.
When the young journalist didn’t respond to messages Friday, a coworker went to look in on her, according to KCUR.
Police reported they went to the apartment and took the young woman to the hospital with serious injuries.
Authorities were not able to publicly confirm the victim’s identity as of Sunday because the 24-year-old was still on life support during that time.
However, Okeson-Haberman’s coworkers confirmed the news of her death in an homage that commemorated her as “brilliant.”
“Even as an intern, her approach to storytelling and her ability to hold those in power accountable paralleled many a veteran reporter,” KCUR news director Lisa Rodriguez posted on the station’s social media accounts. “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.”
“She was an especially beloved friend and colleague just beginning what promised to be a brilliant career. We, at KCUR, join her family and friends in mourning her passing,” her former news station wrote.
Okeson-Haberman had been following a story regarding Missouri government and politics for the station but was planning to relocate to Lawrence, Kan. for a new job reporting on criminal justice issues for the Kansas News Service.
A few hours before her death, Okeson-Haberman had been searching for apartments in Lawrence, according to KCUR.
Okeson-Haberman will be remembered in her high school in Springfield, Mo. as a volunteer with the Boys and Girls Club, looking after as many as 20 children ranging in age from five to 12 and tutoring them with their reading and math studies. She was also an active volunteer for the Food Recovery Network, delivering restaurant food to the Salvation Army.
“She cared deeply about children in foster care and she also wanted to do the most thorough possible job understanding the state’s prison and its juvenile justice system,” said managing editor of the Kansas News Service Scott Canon, who recruited her for the job.
“She was brimming with ideas for stories that she thought just might improve the lives of people who were up against the worst circumstances.”
In her application for her position at KCUR, she outlined the dedication she brought to her trade.
“Social services is a tough beat, but I’m a tough reporter,” she wrote. “I’ll ask the hard questions, dig into the data and spend time building trust with sources. It’s what’s required to provide an unflinching look at how state government affects those entrusted to its care.”
She had been working at KCUR since June 2019.
“Above all, she was sweet, kind and gracious, giving little hint of the strength of purpose that made her such a skilled and tough reporter,” the outlet wrote about her passing.
Police are currently investigating the fatal shooting and have requested that anyone with information come forward, the outlets reported.
“Her instincts as a journalist were spot-on. Aviva knew when something was amiss and was unrelenting in her pursuit of the truth,” Rodriguez stated. “I learned so much from her. Earlier this year, I turned down a pitch she had for a series — an audio diary of nurses fighting COVID-19 on the frontlines. Eventually, she wore me down and we agreed to one story. That piece was one of the most beautiful and emotional pieces of radio I’ve listened to. It brought me to tears each time I listened to it. That was just the kind of storyteller she was — she brought magic to everything.”