Shooter blames slain neighbor and his wife for not stopping violence

| 17 Jul 2019 | 11:06

    By Frances Ruth Harris
    The person who fatally shot Jeffrey G. VanSlyke in 2017 has not been charged. But VanSlyke's step-son, Adrian Khillawan, has so far served more than 600 days in the Pike County jail.
    On June 25, Judge Raymond Hamill sentenced Khillawan to 34 to 80 months in jail. He ordered the local real estate holdings of Khillawan's mother, Indra VanSlyke, placed in escrow pending the outcome of a civil lawsuit brought against her by the shooter, Howard McElnea, his wife, Carole, and their daughter and son-in-law, Julie and Reginald Worthington, who live next door. Also named as defendants are Khillawan and the Estate of Jeffrey VanSlyke.
    The suit is demanding $50,000 plus punitive damages for the "physical pain, emotional anguish, disfigurement, and a loss of life’s pleasures" that have resulted from the traumatic events of 2017.
    Khillawan's attorney, Jules Norris Szanto, said the escrow order has made it much more difficult for the family to manage their defense.
    Why is the shooter free, while the dead man's son is behind bars? Pike County District Attorney Ray Tonkin said it's because Pennsylvania has a stand-your-ground law that protected the shooter in this case. In addition, he said, Khillawan committed a number of crimes before and after his step-father's death.
    "Mr. Khillawan was sentenced after being convicted of several criminal offenses, including terroristic threats, tampering with or fabricating physical evidence, and false reports to law enforcement agencies, after a full trial before Senior Presiding Judge Raymond Hamill," said Tonkin.
    He said the Pennsylvania legislature amended a statute, commonly known as stand your ground, defining when an individual may use force in self-defense.
    "A person may use deadly force in self-protection if the person using deadly force reasonably believes that such force is necessary to protect themselves against death or serious bodily injury," Tonkin said. "A person, not otherwise engaged in criminal activity, who finds themselves in a situation where they are in lawful possession of a firearm, has a right to be where they were attacked, the person believes the use of deadly force was immediately necessary to protect himself against death or serious bodily injury and the person whom force is used against displays a firearm or replica of a firearm."
    Szanto said Khillawan was found guilty of misdemeanors only after a trial, and that he was acquitted of all the lead felony charges.
    "Mr. Khillawan spent a year and a half in jail awaiting trial and still remains incarcerated to date," he said. "However, Howard McElnea, who shot and killed his father on Nov. 2, 2017, has not cooperated with prosecutors, never gave a statement to police, and has not been charged with any crime by the Pike County District Attorneys Office, and we are all left to wonder why.”
    At Khillawan's trial, McElnea took the fifth about his role in the incident.
    A neighbor's videotape
    Reginald Worthington videotaped the incident as it unfolded in the McElneas' driveway on Route 2001 in Milford. He presented the videotape at the trial.
    The Worthingtons testified that McElnea had acted in self-defense. The plaintiffs' attorney in the civil suit, Noreen Kemether, said McElnea only shot at VanSyke after VanSyke pistol-whipped him and shot at him. All of this was captured on Worthington's video, she said.
    McElnea was 78 at the time of the Nov. 2, 2017, shooting. VanSlyke was 68.
    VanSlyke died at the scene. McElnea was critically wounded. He was taken to the hospital, where he remained in a coma until Dec. 23.
    The civil suit says Khillawan then proceeded to threaten McElnea’s family with his step-father's gun:
    "In the seconds immediately following the shootings, with Jeffrey’s handgun still loaded and in his hand, Khillawan picked up Jeffrey’s hand gun and began pointing the gun at Howard — who was lying critically wounded in his driveway — and the Worthington Plaintiffs — who were near Howard — attempting to fire the weapon at them and again repeatedly verbally threatening to kill them all.
    "Jeffrey’s weapon had at least three rounds still in the chamber at the time Khillawan attempted to use it to shoot at Howard and the Worthingtons.
    "Fortunately, Khillawan was unable to fire Jeffrey’s weapon."
    Khillawan evaded the police for a month before turning himself in to the state police.
    About a fence
    The civil suit also alleges that Jeffrey and Indra VanSlyke did nothing to protect their neighbors, knowing their son had "violent and dangerous propensities" and "a history of mental illness and criminal misconduct."
    In June 2017, five months before the shooting, Khillawan was on his parents' Mushroom Court property when he "displayed a firearm and threatened to shoot and kill" Howard McElnea and Julie Worthington, according to the suit. Khillawan engaged in a litany of other threatening behavior, like blocking the McElneas' access to their mailbox, shining bright lights into their house, and playing "deafening music."
    At the time of the November shooting, Khillawan was out on bail and living at Mushroom Court with his parents.
    "Indra and Jeffrey...not only did nothing to stop such conduct or to protect Plaintiffs and other neighbors from Khillawan’s conduct...but also supported, sanctioned, aided and abetted Khillawan’s conduct, to the point where they permitted Khillawan to use their property as a centralized location to create, foster and encourage a cauldron of unwarranted hostility towards Plaintiffs to exist, all of which resulted in a significant risk of physical and emotional harm to the Plaintiffs which was culminated by the events of November 2, 2017, events that their actions — as described — had made almost a certainty to occur."
    The precipitating incident involved a fence between the neighbors.
    The suit says Khillawan built a wood and wire fence around the Mushroom Court property that extended onto a Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) right-of-way and prevented drivers exiting the McElnea driveway from seeing traffic along Route 2001.
    PennDOT removed the fence. But, the suit says, Khillawan and the VanSlykes believed it was removed by the McElneas, which led to the angry confrontation.
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