Protesters demand 'Justice for Kain' on month anniversary of boy's shooting death
Drivers revved their engines or leaned on their horns Monday as protesters stood on the street corners near the York County Judicial Center demanding “Justice for Kain.”
About a dozen protesters chanted or whooped when they heard the drivers respond.
They protested because Monday was the one-month anniversary of 12-year-old Kain Heiland’s shooting death in Red Lion.
Kain was with two 13-year-old boys the evening of April 1 when one of the other boys fetched a gun from his home in the first block of First Avenue. That boy joked about Kain’s mother, and Kain told the boy to shut up, according to state police. The boy then allegedly shot Kain in the upper back at close range.
Trooper James Grothey confirmed Monday that no charges have been filed, and the case is still open.
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Red Lion resident Linda Arvin — who said her son is engaged to Kain’s mother — organized Monday's protest “to bring awareness to this because charges need to be made.”
“No charges have been made; nobody’s been held accountable,” she said, adding that the situation is showing children they can get away with crimes. “We can’t have any serenity or any sense of a beginning of closure with nobody being held responsible.”
Arvin said she decided to protest in front of the courthouse because that is where “they have to make the decision.” The trial, if there are charges, would happen in that courthouse, providing it isn’t moved elsewhere, she said.
“It’ll eventually be here,” Arvin said.
The York County District Attorney's Office declined to address the protesters' concerns.
“The Office of the District Attorney is ethically unable to comment as to the status of ongoing investigations,” said Kyle King, the office’s chief administrator.
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Protest: The protesters gathered on street corners, holding signs, gesturing to drivers to honk their horns. Arvin positioned herself in front of the courthouse steps, wearing a shirt and a necklace with photos of Kain.
“I think charges should be brought,” said 70-year-old West York resident Linda Peters while standing near a street corner and waving a sign.
She added that she would want someone to protest, too, if the situation had happened to her.
Her daughter, Sandy Wykle, 52, of Red Lion, stood nearby. She protested because the shooting and wait for charges was “a horrible tragedy” that parents shouldn’t have to go through.
The shooting happened a short distance from her house, she said. Wykle said she didn’t hear the shooting but that a friend who lives a block away heard it. That friend still has nightmares, she said.
For her, Kain's death brought back memories of when a boy in her son’s fifth-grade class was shot and killed in 2004.
“It was like an accident, not like with Kain’s,” Wykle said.
Now, she is concerned that Kain’s alleged shooter is a threat to the community and wonders how law enforcement knows he isn’t.
“They have so much evidence, it isn’t funny,” she said.
The investigation: Investigators allege the 13-year-old boy pulled the trigger that resulted in Kain's death, according to a search warrant in the case. Police said the alleged shooter then ran back into his home.
Police took a .380-caliber handgun, bullets, clothes, photos and a 13-year-old boy’s DNA as evidence in the investigation.
The gun, a KelTec P3AT pistol, had five bullets in its magazine, state police noted in the warrant’s property inventory. Specifications for the gun show it has a six-round magazine. Investigators found a .380 shell casing on the ground near Kain’s body.
A photo that police learned about during the investigation shows the alleged shooter pointing the gun with its laser shining at what appeared to be Kain's head as he covered his face with his hand, the warrant affidavit shows.
Investigators said the suspect’s father and stepmother brought the teen to the state police barracks in Loganville the morning after the fatal shooting.
When police interviewed the father, he reportedly said that a neighbor called him about a shooting in the area, and that was followed by his son calling him to come home. He reportedly said that, after he got home, he checked the gun safe he kept hidden in a wall and confirmed the .380 pistol was secured in it, the warrant affidavit shows.
Police argued that they needed the search warrant in the overnight hours after the shooting partly out of concerns that evidence at the suspect’s home could be destroyed if investigators waited until the next morning.
Questions: Arvin questioned why the witness statements and other evidence weren’t enough to press charges.
While she stood outside protesting, people she knew called phone numbers she had posted online to bring more attention to the case. The numbers belonged to District Attorney Dave Sunday, Pennsylvania Attorney General Michelle Henry, Pennsylvania State Police Col. Christopher Paris and the Loganville state police barracks. She heard the phone at the district attorney's office was ringing off the hook.
“They need to ring,” Arvin said. “I don’t want anybody to forget.”
She said a month is enough.
With each car honk she heard, Arvin was happy to know another person was aware of the case. She said she felt the same about those who stopped and asked her or the other protesters why they were demonstrating.
Arvin said there should be some statement about the investigation. She is also concerned about how the community will react if there is no closure in the case.
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“I’m concerned about the community getting outraged more and more,” she said.
Arvin said she is waiting for hearings and plans to be at every one of them.
She believes in gun laws and having guns for protection, she said, but the weapons should be secured well enough that no one other than the gun owner has access.
Arvin said she sees signs that Kain is visiting them in spirit, like the bird that followed the recent Ride for Red Lion, which was to remember Kain and bring awareness to other Red Lion issues, such as suicide and bullying.
“We know he’s with us, but we want him to know there’s justice for him,” Arvin said as she cried.
Wykle hoped the family will get justice.
“Hopefully, it’s one step closer to justice for him,” Wykle said.
— Reach Meredith Willse at email@example.com or on Twitter at @MeredithWillse.