Brandon Herring came into the world at nine and a half pounds. His mother, Rhonda Herring, says Brandon was always a big kid; they once wrote a letter to Shaquille O’Neal to get him the size 13 shoes he needed in middle school.
When Brandon was a child, he got the nickname Mac Bear. Rhonda says her son was an old soul, and she used to dress him up in leisure suits and had him address adults as sir and ma’am.
“He was a big-headed, mannish boy,” says Rhonda Herring. “I dressed him in nice shoes and stuff because I wanted a young man—a gentleman—I didn’t want a thug.”
From a young age, Brandon cared about others; he helped teach the kids to read at his mom’s daycare. Later in life, he helped out the unfortunate at nearly every turn, having friends stay over who were in need and often giving up his allowance to buy meals for the unhoused.
“Brandon was an outgoing, spirited young man who, even at 10 years old, was doing laundry, frying catfish, cleaning the kitchen, and helping around the house,” says Rhonda Herring.
His mother says Brandon was a neat and particular young man who’d even ironed his socks. Brandon played football in school and graduated from Raytown South High in 2013. He had many friends and looked after many people. Rhonda says she still has people coming up to her and telling her about how Brandon helped them or someone they knew.
As a young adult, Rhonda says her ‘Mac Bear’ had multiple jobs as a carpenter, aspiring singer, and mechanic. He had side hustles like cutting hair in his mom’s garage and was saving up for the birth of his son.
Herring says her son was a little bit of a daredevil, recalling trips to Lake of the Ozarks where he’d jump from cliffs into the water below for a thrill. She says the 21-year-old loved the outdoors, enjoyed a little brandy, and dabbled in marijuana but kept out of trouble.
“Brandon was not a problem, no police record or anything,” says Herring. “When I was going through cancer treatments, my baby used to pick me up out of the car and carry me into the house. During those six months of chemotherapy, he mopped floors, dusted, vacuumed, and kept up the house for his mom.”
In November of 2016, Brandon went with friends to look for a new car and never came home. His mother suspected something had happened because they were close, and he wouldn’t have just dropped contact. Brandon missed Thanksgiving and then Christmas. Her suspicions were confirmed in January when his body was found in a creek bed of Swope Park.
Brandon Herring was shot in the head and passed away at 21 years old, just weeks before the birth of his son, King Joseph. Brandon had chosen his son’s name, a biblical reference before he had gone missing. The suspected murder remains unsolved, and Brandon Herring’s family misses him dearly. King Joseph is now six.
“The hardest part is coming in this damn house, and nobody’s here but me and that urn,” says Herring.
Rhonda is active in the Moms Demand Action and KC Mothers In Charge. Both groups work to reduce gun violence and support mothers whose children have been victims.
“I don’t want another mother going through what I’m going through,” says Herring.
Rhonda has set up a nonprofit called the Mac Bear Foundation to honor her son, giving out food and water to the less fortunate. Each year, on Brandon’s birthday, they hold a vigil and balloon release at Brandon’s favorite spot in Swope Park to honor his memory.
Brandon Herring’s case is still unsolved. There is a $30k reward for information that leads to an arrest. If you know something, you can reach out anonymously to (816) 474-TIPS or (816) 474-8477
Shining a Light on the Victims
With the near daily announcement of yet another violent death, it’s easy to grow cold to the fact that these individuals were real people, important in the lives of their family and friends and with futures – not always the greatest – ahead of them. One-by-one, their lives were cut short by senseless violence.
To help make these individuals more than just statistics, we hope to help humanize some of them through stories in our pages. We hope it will help make a difference, no matter how small.
If you are the family member of a recent victim of violence and want to share their story, reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org for both Wichita, Kansas City and other area deaths.