A former X Factor contestant was shot to death in Kansas City, Mo., early Monday, and his family members say he was killed for being gay.
Deangelo Wallace, 28, was killed in front of the Kansas City police headquarters about 12:30 a.m., local media report. There had been an argument between him and another man leading up to the shooting.
Police arrested a suspect and turned the case over to Jackson County prosecutors, but neither the suspect’s name nor charges have been announced, and the suspect has been released. Police said they don’t believe Wallace’s death was a hate crime, but his relatives beg to differ.
“I’ve been on phone calls several times where he’s been threatened here in Kansas City. He’s been told that if they see him downtown, he’ll be killed,” Shauntice Wallace, his sister, said at a press conference Wednesday, according to Kansas City’s Fox affiliate.
Deangelo Wallace auditioned for The X Factor in 2012. He went in with confidence, saying, “I could be a good pop star. I know I’m better than Justin Bieber.” He “had several memorable exchanges with judges, including Britney Spears and Demi Lovato,” the Fox affiliate notes, but his singing was so off-key that the judges walked out.
At the press conference, Shauntice Wallace shared a recording of her brother singing “Happy Birthday,” a much better performance than his X Factor audition. He had talent and aimed to entertain, she said.
Deangelo Wallace had been in and out of homeless shelters and took a bus to his job, and he had encountered hostility in those venues, his family said. Homeless people had thrown rocks at him, said his mother, Karen Wallace. “He got a couple of threats,” she said. “‘Oh, if we keep seeing you come down here, then we’re going to kill you.’”
A local minister, Timothy Hayes, also spoke at the press conference. “Just coming out of Pride Month, who would ever think that something like this would happen on the front steps of our police department?” Hayes said.
Shauntice Wallace added, “I just want his killer to be charged. I want justice for my brother, and I want to shed light on the LGBT community because they are targeted every day.”