York City mayor criticizes media, 'rumors' following fatal shooting of child

York City Mayor Michael Helfrich spoke out Wednesday to dispel rumors regarding the death of a 5-year-old boy who was fatally shot in the city Tuesday afternoon.

Helfrich criticized what he characterized as inaccuracies in local media coverage and rumors that spread throughout the city in the shooting's wake.

“It does not help a family, it does not help victims, when people start saying things that aren’t true," he said near the site of Tuesday's shooting. "It doesn't help the police — it doesn't help any of us do our jobs to actually get to the bottom of these crimes when people participate in rumors and misinformation."

Elias Dowlatram was fatally shot in an SUV in the 200 block of East Philadelphia Street about 2 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 21. 

“There was no shootout in the streets in the 200 block of East Philadelphia Street yesterday," he said Wednesday, Aug. 21.

“This child was not killed while playing in the streets," the mayor added.

He said because of investigative proceedings, the police department can only release so much information, adding  “because we do not give out information, that does not give others the right to make up their own stories."

Helfrich said it's upsetting for the police, who now have to combat rumors while investigating the incident.

“While I understand that you can say 'witnesses reported this' — that doesn’t make it truth," he said.

Helfrich didn't specify which media outlets he was accusing of reporting false or inaccurate information. 

Elias' mother's boyfriend, Adrian Moye, 27, was watching the child and the boy's relative, a 7 year-old boy, when Elias was shot in the vehicle, according to York City Police.

Helfrich said no determination had been made whether the boy shot himself or was shot by the other child in the car.

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Moye was arrested and charged with two counts of child endangerment and one count each of cocaine possession with intent to deliver and being a convicted felon in illegal possession of a firearm, and he remains in York County Prison without bail.

Helfrich also commented on the alleged actions of Moye, adding that people should not do such a " stupid, horrible thing endangering children."

“If there are those who are not intelligent enough to know that, then they certainly should not be in possession of guns," he said.

Family and friends hold a balloon release at the corner of East Philadelphia Street and North Pine Street for Elias Dowlatram, the five-year-old boy who died from an accidental shooting, Tuesday, August 20.
Wednesday, August 21, 2019.
John A. Pavoncello photo

Moye, a felon, is not allowed to possess a firearm.

“We have someone illegally possess a firearm, acting illegally, not only acting illegally but negligently and allowing for something this horrible to happen”

There have been at least 20 shootings in York City in 2019.

— Reach Christopher Dornblaser at cdornblaser@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @YDDornblaser.