The investigation into the killing of a 14-year-old boy took police Tuesday to the house of the boy who investigators said was with the victim at the time he was shot.
As friends and family prepared to say goodbye to Tyler Winstead at Mount Zion Baptist Church, police searched a home near where his viewing is taking place. Investigators raided a home two doors down, the home of the teen who investigators said was with Tyler the night he was shot dead and just feet from a makeshift memorial where people dropped off balloons, candles and stuffed animals.
Luzerne County detectives, state police and Wilkes-Barre city police raided the home on Hill Street just after noon, the same time the body of Tyler Winstead arrived at the church for a viewing.
Police spent about two hours inside the home and left with several briefcases and envelopes. Neighbors said investigators broke into the home since it was locked and the people living there haven’t been seen in several days.
Last Thursday, investigators said, Winstead was shot and killed while walking with his friend after playing basketball at a nearby youth center.
The coroner said Tyler died of a single gunshot wound to the chest. Friends and family said Tyler never got into any trouble, and was an honors student at GAR Junior/Senior High School.
Since the shooting, people built a makeshift memorial for Tyler on the sidewalk where police found his body. Investigators have said little about what happened Thursday and the boy’s grandfather said he’s heard from the district attorney only once.
“Naturally I want to know what’s what but I want to give them time to do what they have to do and I don’t know all that much, but like I said, so we just have to wait that’s all,” said grandfather Willie Golden. “Neighbors have been beautiful. The saying with the valley with a heart? Before I took it with a grain of salt, but now I see it kind of makes up for all the bad things that happened, you know.”
Some people who live in the neighborhood said the virtual silence from investigators has done nothing but raise fears.
At a neighborhood grocery store, a mural pays respect to the memory of Tyler Winstead. The final touches were completed by a friend of the store owner Sunday.
“It affected all of us because we can’t say we knew him but we knew he was a good kid, always quiet. He would just never bother anybody. We thought it would be something nice to do outside,” said Karina Chavez of Wilkes-Barre Deli Grocery.
“We’re living in fear for our lives and we can’t let our children out to play. It’s not a safe neighborhood. If they let more information out it wouldn’t be as much fear for our children and ourselves,” said neighbor Beth Purkey.
The boy who police said was with Tyler when he was shot is also a student at GAR Junior/Senior High School, but school officials said he did not show up for class Tuesday. In fact, neighbors said they have not seen anyone come or go from the home in several days.
Luzerne County District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis said Tuesday investigators know where the victim’s friend is and know where his family is but would not say why that home was raided.