By Jeff Wagner

RICHFIELD, Minn. (WCCO) — It’s a colorful project for a cause: peeling the wrapper off crayons so they can be melted and molded into artistic creations.

The finished pieces made at Local Roots, a cafe off 66th Street, are then sold to benefit families of children battling cancer at Children’s Minnesota.

“The community really steps up and helps,” said organizer Cynthia Kuntz, adding it’s not just for this specific occasion.

“We do something every month for him to keep his name out there, and it’s 27 months now. We just hope that paying it forward will get us answers,” she said tearfully.

That pain Kuntz feels has been with her ever since she lost her son, Jonathan O’Shaughnessy. She was at his side when the then 24-year-old was killed in a drive-by shooting as they walked home from a Richfield street dance in July 2017 along 64th Street.

The spot is now memorialized with a bench and plaque in his name. Flyers adorn the light posts and trees nearby, pleading information leading to an arrest.

Kuntz has increased the reward for that information from $25,000 to $50,000. It’s a staggering number she hopes will encourage someone who knows something to talk to police. Kuntz worries that person might be worried they’d be considered a snitch.

“No, you’re not snitching. You’re helping a family grieve and get some closure,” she said. “The whole word ‘snitch,’ I hate that word. It affects the whole realm of how this murder is going to be solved because somebody’s gonna have to say something.”

As she waits, she serves to honor her son. She adopted a portion I-35W where a volunteer group cleans twice a year.

“Jonathan had a giver’s heart,” she said. “He would help people being bullied at school, he would sit with the kids that were by themselves.”

Police say witnesses saw four people drive off from the shooting scene in a 1990s gray minivan. It had a sliding door on the driver’s side. Anyone with information is urged to call Richfield police at 612-861-9800 or call CrimeStoppers at 651-452-7463.

To learn more about future service projects in O’Shaughnessy’s name, click here.

Jeff Wagner