A nineteen-year-old is the innocent victim of a gang-related shooting.
Was Kevin the victim of a gang shooting?
No leads came from the flyers
On May 3, 1991, just south of Los Angeles in Hawaiian Gardens, California, Kevin Wheel was gunned down by four suspected gang members. He was Teresa Wheel’s only son:
“Kevin was a typical teenager. He loved his music really loud, he was a little bit on the shy side, he had a sense of humor you wouldn’t believe, and he always, always had a smile on his face.”
Hawaiian Gardens had its share of gang activity and Kevin knew several gang members. It was a casual association that proved fatal.
On the night he was killed, Kevin spent the evening at a friend’s house. He was driving home around 11:30 P.M. when, according to eyewitnesses, a car began to follow him and then opened fire. Kevin was struck twice in the head and three times in the back. An hour later, he was dead. L.A. County Sheriff’s Sergeant Jacqueline Franco immediately suspected it was a gang shooting:
“Some of Kevin’s friends were Hawaiian Gardens gang members, but that doesn’t mean that Kevin was a gang member. He just associated with them, and I feel the other gang recognized the car that may have had some of Kevin’s friends in it from time to time, who were Hawaiian Gardens gang members.”
Kevin’s parents are on a crusade for answers
Following his death, Kevin’s parents would not sit still. They posted thousands of flyers around the area where he was shot. Teresa would not let Kevin’s murder be just another gang-related shooting:
“When the investigation first started, I thought there was so much information that this probably wouldn’t be a problem. And being that Kevin wasn’t a gang member, I believed people would talk. I found out that I was really wrong.”
“Gang shooting investigations are very frustrating. Within the gang culture, the reason the witnesses do not coming forward is because they feel that being a snitch is worse than death itself.”
Teresa and her husband are still coming to terms with their son’s untimely death:
“The hardest part for Stan and I is dealing with the anger. The anger that our son is dead and buried in a grave at nineteen. There was no rhyme or reason why anybody would want to shoot Kevin. He’s never been in any fights or disagreements with anybody. He was just a nineteen year old out having fun. It is just so senseless. It’s so stupid. It was and still is such a shock that something like this could happen.”
Police believe Kevin’s killers were four males, possibly Hispanic. They were driving a white compact car, and may have been members of a gang based in nearby Artesia.
Watch this case now on Amazon Prime in season six with Robert Stack and in season six with Dennis Farina. Also available on YouTube with Dennis Farina. Various seasons available now on Hulu.
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