Mother of Central West End murder victim speaks out on search for more answers in his death

Published: May. 25, 2023 at 5:28 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - News 4 first told you about a man who was shot and killed in his apartment building in the Central West End on Tuesday.

39-year-old Nichalaus Kaznoch’s mom Kim is now looking for answers in her son’s death.

“I’m thankful that I got to love my son as long and as much as I did,” Kim says.

Tuesday’s murder in the Central West End was rare and only the second this year.

The shooting happened on May 23 in the 4300 block of West Pine, which is a block east of Forest Park, around 12:20 a.m.

Kim is filled with heartache that her son fell victim to the crime St. Louis suffers from.

“People have damaged souls in this city and they’re trying to fill them in the wrong ways,” Kim says.

Kaznoch’s mother describes him as a talented artist who was compassionate, kind and hardworking.

“He was such a fun, thrill-seeking, creative soul that I just wish we didn’t have to lose him,” Kim says.

Kim didn’t find out for hours that it was her son who was shot and killed inside the Toronto Apartments at the corner of Newstead and West Pine.

“He’s going to be irreplaceable because he was such a good soul,” Kim says.

After seeing news reports of someone his age that died in his building, she made calls to the police.

“It was so strange like every hour we had one more piece of a story that was getting closer and closer,” Kim says.

However, Kim says they weren’t the first ones to tell her.

“I pieced it together because the hospital had called me the night before but I didn’t pick up the phone,” Kim says. “Then I talked to the landlord and I asked him and he’s actually the person that told me first. Because they didn’t know his identity, the police can’t come over to someone’s house and say we maybe have your son who is dead.”

23-year-old Kevin Smallwood is charged with first-degree murder and armed criminal action in Kaznoch’s death.

Kim says it’s not only her family that has to grieve the loss of a child.

“A young 23-year-old just threw away his life and it just destroys me that there are two people in this who are now gone,” Kim says.

According to court documents, a neighbor heard the gunshot and saw Smallwood run away.

Investigators say before Kaznoch died, he told the witness the person who shot him lived in apartment 107, which police say Smallwood lives in.

The events leading up to the shooting are still unclear and it’s answers Kim and her family are searching for.

“What happened that someone thought a gun would resolve it because that’s so illogical to me,” Kim says. “In this society damaged souls and trying to make a living, carrying guns, doing foolish things maybe.”

News 4 did reach out to the Circuit Attorney’s Office for more information in this case but we were told nothing additional could be released.