Red Lion teen, 13, charged with homicide in fatal shooting of Kain Heiland

Meredith Willse
York Dispatch

A 13-year-old has been charged with third-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter in the shooting death of 12-year-old Red Lion boy Kain Heiland, York County DA Dave Sunday announced Friday.

Sunday, who spoke at a news conference Friday amid increasing pressure from the Red Lion community seeking answers in the case, said Nolan Grove will be charged as an adult.

Grove also faces a felony charge of having a firearm without a license and misdemeanor counts of possession of a firearm by a minor and recklessly endangering another person.

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Sunday said Grove surrendered Friday morning after a grand jury recommended charges. He was denied bail in a hearing Friday before District Judge John Fishel, as is standard for anyone charged with homicide in Pennsylvania.

There was an additional hearing Friday before President Judge Maria Musti Cook on a motion for modification of bail, according to online records, and Grove was committed to KidsPeace center. His preliminary hearing is scheduled for June 27 before Fishel.

York County District Attorney Dave Sunday, along with his office and the Pennsylvania State Police, updating the media in the homicide case of Kain Heiland in York on Friday, May 5, 2023.

Grove's father is not facing charges at this time, the district attorney said.

Investigators say Kain, 12, was hanging out with two 13-year-old boys April 1, less than a mile from his East Prospect Street home. Grove, one of the older boys, allegedly fetched a gun from his home on the first block of First Avenue. He made a joke about Kain’s mother, after which the younger boy told him to shut up.

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According to the affidavit of probable cause released Friday, the third child said he heard Grove playing with the gun because “he heard it clicking” and saw Grove load and unload the gun numerous times, as well as activate the laser sight.

Surveillance footage reportedly showed the laser appearing on Kain's body, court records show. Kain reportedly asked Grove to “take your finger off the trigger."

State police, in a search warrant filed in the case, said the teen allegedly shot Kain in the upper back at a close range. 

Lehigh Valley Hospital performed an autopsy that showed while Kain was shot from behind, he died from a gunshot wound to his chest in a homicide, the coroner’s report said.

About eight hours after the shooting, Pennsylvania State Police collected a .380-caliber handgun, bullets, clothes, photos and DNA from a 13-year-old boy. A .380 shell casing was found on the ground near Kain’s body. The police noted the gun, a KelTecP3AT pistol, had five bullets in the magazine, which was one short, according to specs. 

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For a month and a few days, the Red Lion community grieved. A few days after Kain died, the community gathered for a memorial at Family of God Community Church in Red Lion. 

“Kain, I love you so much,” his friend 13-year-old AJ Webster said. 

AJ recounted the firsts Kain will not have, such as getting a driver’s license or having children. 

York County District Attorney Dave Sunday, along with his office and the Pennsylvania State Police, updating the media in the homicide case of Kain Heiland in York on Friday, May 5, 2023.

The community started multiple fundraisers to support Kain’s family, including a ride that visited his favorite places in the town.  Red Lion Area School District offered counseling services to students and staff.

On the month anniversary of Kain's death, about a dozen protesters demanded “Justice for Kain” outside the York County Courthouse. 

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Red Lion resident Linda Arvin, who said her son is engaged to Kain’s mother, organized the 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 this situation shows other 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."

She chose to protest in front of the courthouse because that is where a trial would be held, she said. 

— Reach Meredith Willse at or on Twitter at @MeredithWillse.