HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – A vigil was held Friday evening honoring the life of Kyler Waiwada, a teen whose death was the first of two alleged robberies involving friends and deadly setups happening just days apart.
Waiwada, 18, was shot and killed in an alley in the 1800 block of State Street Aug. 30. Two people were arrested and charged with conspiring to rob and kill him. One was someone Waiwada knew, according to his mother.
Days later, on Sept. 5, the body of 18-year-old Torin Dworchak was found in the parking lot of the National Civil War Museum. Police arrested a friend of Dworchak’s for his murder.
At the vigil Friday for Waiwada, community members joined friends and family at the spot where he was gunned down.
“We gotta put the guns down. I don’t like guns being involved. If there’s any beef with anybody, I don’t understand why people can’t fight it out,” asked Waiwada’s friend, Brian Coiley, who had grown close to him over the last few months. “One time I just saw him sleep on this porch, and it just hurt me. It just broke my heart We started taking care of each other.”
That sense of caring is something that needs to come back, said one concerned community member.
“His life is gone. Who knows what type of opportunities his life could’ve given him,” said Claude Phipps, whose campaigned Waiwada worked on a few years ago. “The community needs to step up. Basically, we need to save a generation. We can do something about this. It’s not the police. It’s not the politicians. We in the community have become part of the problem because we won’t step up and take some responsibility.”
Waiwada’s mother, Bethany Waiwada, echoed that call for community help and ownership.
“You can tell by the people that came out and the outpouring of love that he’s had from all over,” Waiwada said. “What’s crazy is the person whose loyalty you didn’t have to question was taken by people whose loyalty he should have. I knew it was personal. Unfortunately, some of our closest friends are our worst enemies.”
Balloons with messages for Kyler were released in his memory as friends and family signed posters plastered with his picture.
Waiwada wants other parents to be aware of who their kids are friends with, and show a little tough love.
“As parents, we need to take heed and make sure our kids pay attention because everybody is not your friend,” she said.
Kyler has been cremated and will be honored with a visitation service Saturday at noon.