The family of a 19-year-old shooting victim remembered him Wednesday as a kind and generous young man who had recently worked hard to get his life on track.
Dylan J. Heinen’s dad, Dennis Heinen, described his 6-feet 4-inch tall son as a “gentle giant.”
“He was easy going, quiet,” he said. “He treated people the way he wanted to be treated. He was a giver, not a taker.”
Heinen was killed early Tuesday in what police described as an apparent accidental shooting, then partially dismembered by a panicked friend, following a night of drinking with friends at a Spokane home. Facing a first-degree manslaughter charge in connection with the death is Jeremy M. McVicker, 19, who was ordered held Wednesday at the Spokane County Jail in lieu of $1 million bail.
The shooting happened at McVicker’s north Spokane home while McVicker was showing other friends his pistol. McVicker, who reportedly panicked after realizing he’d killed his friend, tried to dismember Heinen’s corpse with a hatchet to dispose of evidence and cover up the crime.
Although Heinen had recently been in some trouble – he pleaded guilty to driving while intoxicated last year – his family called him a good person trying to make positive changes in his life. They said he was in the company of the wrong crowd when he was killed.
Heinen earned Eagle Scout in 2011 and graduated from Community School in December 2012. He had been working at the Timberline Grill for more than a year. A car enthusiast, Heinen had aspirations of enrolling at Spokane Community College and becoming an automotive mechanic.
Heinen, the youngest of four siblings, loved the outdoors and enjoyed riding ATVs.
“He liked anything fast,” his dad said.
His large but tight-knit family packed the courtroom at McVicker’s first appearance in Spokane County Superior Court Wednesday, struggling with the news of Heinen’s death.
“I’m upset,” his dad said. “I’m super upset.”
McVicker appeared in court via live video feed from the Spokane County Jail while court documents filed Wednesday depicted the tragedy, chaos and confusion inside the home a night earlier.
When police arrived at McVicker’s home at 4818 N. Lincoln St. just before 5 a.m. Tuesday, a bloodied McVicker opened the door in a T-shirt and boxer shirts and was immediately taken into custody, the affidavit said. Police followed bloody footprints down to the basement, where they discovered Heinen lying face down in the threshold of a basement bedroom, a hatchet next to his body.
McVicker initially told police Heinen committed suicide by shooting himself in the head, but he couldn’t explain the estimated 40 hatchet blows to the victim’s neck when officers asked about the trauma, and he eventually acknowledged his alleged role in the killing, according to the affidavit.
“McVicker eventually admitted that he was playing with the gun and pointed the muzzle at Heinen’s head when the handgun discharged unintentionally,” according to court documents outlining the charges. “Heinen was struck in the left side of the head and collapsed to the floor.”
McVicker did not call 911 nor try to render first aid. Instead, he is accused of trying to dismember the body to dispose of it.
“McVicker armed himself with a hatchet and repeatedly struck Heinen in the back of the neck attempting to decapitate him,” the affidavit said. “After striking Heinen repeatedly with the hatchet, McVicker said he became sickened and stopped.”
When police asked why he tried to dismember the body, he said he didn’t want to be arrested for manslaughter and spend the next 20 years in prison.
McVicker told police he and Heinen were drinking at McVicker’s home along with Dillon G. Thiemens, when the shooting occurred. A juvenile female was asleep upstairs when Heinen was shot.
Thiemens told police they were in McVicker’s basement bedroom when McVicker pulled out a 9 mm pistol and began playing with it.
He was loading, unloading and racking the slide on the gun repeatedly, Thiemens told police, when Heinen said something along the lines of “ ‘why don’t you just pull the trigger?’ ” McVicker pointed the gun at Heinen and fired one round, striking Heinen. McVicker said he thought the gun was unloaded.
Thiemens, who has not been charged with a crime, told police he stepped over the body, left the residence, and threw the pistol into a nearby garbage can, where police later recovered it. About an hour after the shooting, Thiemens called 911.