'This is not fair, I'm the only one without a gun,' Kain Heiland said before fatal shooting: police

A few hours before he was shot and killed April 1 while hanging out with friends in Red Lion, 12-year-old Kain Heiland allegedly lamented he was unarmed.

"This is not fair, I’m the only one without a gun,” he said, according to court records.

Video surveillance from inside the home of one of the three boys involved in the fatal Red Lion shooting — with one holding a BB gun and the other a handgun — recorded some of their interactions that day, investigators say.

At one point, police say Kain — with the bead of the gun's red laser visible on his body — is heard on the video asking 13-year-old Nolan Grove to “take your finger off the trigger.”

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On Friday, Grove was charged with third-degree murder, involuntary manslaughter and a battery of other charges related to the incident.

This is one of the many photos of Kain Heiland that has been used by may in Red Lion as they pushed to get justice for him. Heiland was shot and killed April 1. A teen he was allegedly hanging out with that day, Nolan Grove, was charged with third-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter in connection with Heiland's death. Submitted photo

District Attorney Dave Sunday spoke during a news conference Friday amid increasing pressure from Red Lion residents wanting answers about the case. In the month since the fatal shooting, family and friends have gathered for vigils, fundraisers and, eventually, protests.

“I’m very proud of the work we’ve done,” Sunday said, explaining his office used a grand jury and worked with Kain’s parents over the past few weeks. He said investigators took their time because this was a “very serious set of circumstances” and decisions had to be done thoroughly, using the law and facts. 

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Kain was hanging out with Grove and another 13-year-old boy from around 2:30 p.m. April 1 to the time he was shot at close to 8:30 p.m. on the first block of First Street, according to the criminal complaint against Grove.

“I’m so sorry, K,” Grove allegedly said before he and a third teen ran from the scene, according to investigators.

Surrendered: Grove surrendered himself to Pennsylvania State Police Friday morning. Though charged as an adult, he will not be jailed at York County Prison, but will be transferred to a juvenile facility. The teen also faces counts of possession of a firearm without a license, possession of a firearm by a minor and four counts of reckless endangerment.

Attorneys at a hearing Friday afternoon said York County Court of Common Pleas Judge Maria Musti Cook decided she would not have a 13-year-old boy held at the prison.

Instead, temporary space for him was found at a KidsPeace center outside of York County — the county Children Youth and Families agency apparently has a contract with the organization. Musti Cook ordered county juvenile probation to take custody of Grove from the sheriff's office and arrange his transportation to KidsPeace.

"We expect that while Mr. Grove is at KidsPeace he will continue to receive educational services as well as mental health services," Musti Cook said.

Grove's attorney, Farley Holt, also requested a mental health evaluation for the teen.

What happened: On April 1, the third teen told police he recalled seeing Grove handling the gun used in the shooting, and he remembered Grove was playing with it because “he could hear it clicking,” the criminal complaint in the case said. The teen also allegedly saw Grove turning the laser sight on multiple times.  

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 complaint adds the third teen spotted two girls near Grove’s home who he thought had his scooter. The boys spoke with the girls to get the scooter returned. During that conversation, one girl allegedly told investigators, she remembered Grove saying he isn’t “afraid to shoot someone” and “would if he could,” while the other girl recalled Grove saying he “would shoot someone if he had to,” the complaint continues. 

The third witness recalled Grove pointing the gun at the girls as the boys walked away, according to police. 

Investigators obtained a video recorded shortly before the shooting that showed a red laser on Kain as he lay on the ground, shielding his face. 

A fourth witness, who was there via a FaceTime call that was almost two hours long, told police they recalled Grove allegedly pointing the firearm at Kain and the third boy present multiple times, hearing Grove say he wanted to shoot the gun and seeing Grove point the gun before pulling the trigger at a building outside of Grove’s garage. 

Shortly before 8 p.m., the boys returned to the third teen’s home, but then went back to Grove’s home, the complaint recounted. While the group walked to Grove’s home, police say video surveillance showed Grove pointing the gun down toward an intersection. 

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 third teen told police he heard Grove playing with the gun, loading and unloading it, then opening it halfway and dropping a bullet, the complaint said, which the teen remembered Grove pocketing. The teen didn’t recall if Grove put that back in the firearm, but recalled Grove fidgeting with the gun in his pocket, the report reads.

Throughout the day, Grove allegedly made “your mom” jokes to Kain, who would tell Grove to shut up. Grove also allegedly texted Kain’s mother, through Kain’s cellphone, that she was “really hot,” the complaint reads. 

Around 8:22 p.m., Grove joked about Kain’s mother, and Kain told him to be quiet, police say. 

“You know what happens,” one witness recalled Grove saying, according to the complaint. 

Court records state that Grove then pulled out the gun from the sweatshirt he was wearing with an orange muscle car print and pointed it at Kain. At the time, Kain was walking in front of Grove while the third boy was behind Grove. 

The third teen wasn’t sure if the gun touched Kain’s back, but he did see the fire when the gun discharged, the complaint states. 

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 and the third teen ran back to the third teen’s home, where he allegedly asked Grove why he shot Kain. Grove did not respond, according to the complaint. The boys returned a few minutes later to pick up the third teen’s BB gun, which he'd dropped during the incident. 

Neither teen called 911, the report states, but records do show Grove called his father, who was in Harrisburg at the time. The third boy went home and allegedly told his parents, who called 911. 

The only communication between the two teens was when Grove told the third boy to say he ran home to grab a snack and not to tell anyone, the complaint adds.

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

About eight hours after the shooting, Pennsylvania State Police collected a .380-caliber handgun, bullets, clothes, photos and DNA of 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 — one short, according to court records. 

When police interviewed Grove at 9:13 p.m. that night, they noticed he wore different clothing than what was seen on the surveillance footage. Those clothes, the dark sweatshirt and jeans, were found in Grove’s room, police said. Grove also allegedly told investigators he washed his hands after the shooting. 

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Grove's mother, Danielle Nace, reportedly told investigators that Grove told her it was an accident. According to court records, the teen reportedly told his mother that he had the gun in his right hand, which was swinging while he walked, and the gun accidentally fired.

According to court records, Nace told investigators her son knows not to point the gun unless he intends to use it and that his stepfather, who took a firearms safety course, passed those lessons on to the teen. She said she confirmed he only fired BB guns and pellet guns prior to this, according to police. 

The preliminary hearing in the criminal case is scheduled for June 27 in District Judge John Fishel's court.

Judge Musti Cook scheduled a status hearing on the custody issue for May 26.

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Community grieves: For the past 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. 

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

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.

Protest: Last Monday, a month after the shooting, about a dozen protesters demanded “Justice for Kain” outside of the York County Courthouse. 

Linda Arvin stands in front of the courthouse, protesting to make sure her grandson, Kain Heiland, is not forgotten. He died April 1 and no charges have been filed. About 20 protestors stood near the York County Courthouse, Monday, May 1, 2023. Meredith Willse photo

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.

— Reach Aimee Ambrose at aambrose@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @aimee_TYD and Meredith Willse at mwillse@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @MeredithWillse.