Hundreds attend vigil for shooting victims in Little Falls

5:12 PM, Nov 26, 2012   |    comments
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LITTLE FALLS, Minn. -- Hundreds of students remembered classmates with balloons and candles, outside Little Falls High School, their flames repeatedly extinguished by Sunday night's bitter wind.

"We are praying for them. We want to keep them in our memories and support their families," said Zachary Mertens, a senior who attended the candlelight vigil alongside 200 students and parents.

According to family members, Nicholas Brady, 17, and his cousin Haile Kifer, 18, both from Little Falls, never showed up to the family Thanksgiving dinner.

Their bodies were found Friday after Morrison County Sheriff's deputies received a concerning call regarding the behavior of the homeowner at 14319 Elm Street.

The home overlooks the banks of the Mississippi, and when deputies approached the homeowner, he confessed to shooting and killing the teens on Thanksgiving, telling authorities he fired when the teens broke into his home.

The Morrison County Sheriff says "a person has every right to defend themselves and their homes, even employing deadly force if necessary," but also said the circumstances of this case led deputies to believe the homeowner went beyond that point.

Questions overshadowed grief during many moments of silence and prayer.

"Why did he wait 24 hours to report it? That is what I don't get. I don't understand that. It's not right," said Alice Lister, of Litchfield who attended the vigil with her daughters, Brady's former classmates.

"Two kids killed in a basement and it took a lot to bring out the fact that you did it?" said Mertens.

"It's just a tragic thing," says John Lange, a friend of the 64-year old man. "He's a very nice guy who just keeps to himself."

Lange said the homeowner was a friend to many area teens, offering them work around his home, or his garage for band practices, but was recently fed up after a string of break ins.

"I think he just couldn't deal with it anymore," says Lange. "Why he didn't call the cops right away, I don't know."

Stephanie Cluever, a junior who attended the vigil, described Kifer as a role model in gymnastics.

"If I didn't believe in myself, she would say you can do it. I can't come to the fact she is gone and with Nick, he knew how to make everyone smile," said Cluever.

The homeowner is expected to appear in court Monday morning on second degree murder charges. Authorities say they plan to release more details in the case at a press conference Monday at 1pm in the Morrison County Government Center.

More than 1,500 people are following a Facebook page created in memory of the teens.

(Copyright 2012 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)

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