The Black community in Kansas City is calling for a white man to be charged with murder after yelling a racial slur moments before stabbing a Black man to death on July 4.
It’s been two weeks since Sean Walter Tonkin, 36, took the life of Jon Rone Jr., a 41-year-old Black man, by stabbing him twice in the chest. The family is still wondering why he only faces a peace ordinance charge.
The incident took place outside a gas station located at 14306 E. U.S. 40 Highway in Kansas City, Missouri, just before 2:30 p.m. on July 4.
According to witnesses and court records, Tonkin provoked a confrontation with Rone and used hate speech before stabbing him twice in the chest.
Witnesses said Tonkin asked, “Do you wanna see a white man f*ck up a n*gger?”
“Multiple witnesses at the scene of the cutting described that the cutting suspect was repeatedly using the word ‘n*gger’ prior to and during a verbal altercation with the victim in front of the business,” reads the probable cause statement.
The Kansas City Star newspaper describes what police say witnesses told them:
In an affidavit of probable cause for the search warrant, detectives wrote that two women they interviewed reported speaking with the killer moments before the attack.
Both said a stocky white man wearing a dirty T-shirt and blue shorts had approached them. One said he “began to hit on her,” and both described him repeatedly using a racial slur as he was asked to stop.
At one point, the man began to speak “disrespectfully” to Rone, the homicide victim, including by calling him the N-word. The men argued, the witnesses said, then walked to the east side of the business.
One witness said she saw the suspect throw the first punch. They fought, and Rone fell to the ground, she said. Then the killer pulled a knife from his right pocket and stabbed Rone in the torso.
Emergency responders arrived on the scene and found Rone unresponsive and suffering from multiple stab wounds inside of the gas station.
Tonkin was apprehended thirty minutes later less than two miles away from the scene in Independence, Missouri. He was allegedly found with a folding knife with an American flag logo wrapped around the handle, according to Jackson County court documents. Test results also showed blood traces on the blade.
Rone’s sister, who wants her identity to remain concealed, told the Kansas City Defender she believed it was premeditated.
“The fact that he said what he was going to do. He intentionally wanted to start something with a Black man. And that’s what he did. He stabbed my brother in the chest twice. This is more than just a murder. This is a hate crime,” she said to the Kansas City Defender.
Tonkin was charged with peace disturbance and possession of a controlled substance. The family feels he should be charged with a hate crime and murder.
“Nearly two weeks after the killing, no charges had been filed,” said the Rone family in an interview with the Kansas City Defender. “[Sean Tonkin] is getting away with this.”
The 36-year-old reportedly has pictures of himself in camouflage clothing with a camouflage mask covering his face, a knife wrapped in the American flag logo, hate speech toward Black people, photos of guides titled “Explosive Limits of Gases & Vapors,” and showing a tattoo of three triangles stacked on top of each other that represent Valknut, which is supposedly a symbol of reincarnation.
Prosecutors say they are still reviewing the evidence in the case to determine if additional charges should be filed.
“Our community is rightfully angered by the disturbing racial comments of the defendant,” the Jackson County prosecutor’s office said in a statement. “The investigation continues into the fatal stabbing of Jon Rone by the defendant. That investigation must examine who started the incident, what weapons were used by the people involved and Missouri’s law on self-defense.”
The prosecutor’s office is also “ready and willing” to provide assistance to the U.S. Department of Justice if they decide to take the case.
“I’m really trying to be strong and keep it together,” said Rone’s sister to the Kansas City Defender. “But the fact that my brother’s killer asked this is really tearing me up. I’m so hurt and mad. I promise I won’t rest until justice is served.”
Tonkin still remains behind bars at Jackson County Detention Center.