A 15-year-old Florida boy is being hailed as a hero by his grieving family and community after giving his life to protect his 5-year-old sister from a home invader.
On Monday, police identified Khyler Edman as the teen whose body they had found in a Port Charlotte home while investigating a burglary.
Police in Port Charlotte, on the western side of Florida about 30 miles northwest of Fort Myers, said Monday that the arrest of a man found wandering the streets with stab wounds to his hands and arms had led them to investigate a burglary. They followed further evidence to a home where they found a boy deceased, and another juvenile, a 5-year-old girl, unharmed.
Charlotte County police had announced the investigation on Friday after being called to investigate “a reported injured male who was running through the neighborhood,” they said in a statement.
Initially deputies were called at 4 p.m. Thursday about the injured man. As police arrived, the man took off, eventually entering a home whose resident called police.
“After a short foot pursuit,” police apprehended Ryan Clayton Cole, 27.
“Cole was observed to have several stab wounds on his hands and side,” cops said, and he was taken to a local hospital.
Police began canvassing the neighborhood, discovering another apparent burglary.
“They found that forced entry was made into a doorway and inside that residence they found a teenager and a young child,” Charlotte County Sheriff Bill Prummell told reporters, as recorded by WESH-TV. “It appears that the suspect had broken into this residence. A violent encounter ensued where we believe that the teenager was trying to protect the home, protect their younger sibling.”
“It is believed that Cole received his injuries inside the same residence during a violent encounter,” the police statement said. “The burglary victim from Conway Blvd provided a description of Ryan Cole and identified him in a photo lineup as the suspect who entered his home.”
On Monday, the boy’s family agreed to go public with his identity, and the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office confirmed it was Khyler.
“We request that the community and media continue to give the family privacy as they grieve,” police said.
Police declined to say exactly how Khyler died, describing it only as a “violent encounter.”
Meanwhile, family friends have set up a GoFundMe account that had raised more than $20,000 by Monday evening and were planning to hold a fundraiser and vigil for the boy on Saturday, reported WFTX-TV.
“He was only 15 years old and lost his life due to a senseless act of a stranger,” his mother wrote on the GoFundMe site, which is seeking burial funds. “My son had a long life ahead of him that was taken too soon.”
Cole, for his part, was known to authorities, having been arrested several times this year alone, and was currently on probation, with a history of drug use, reported WWSB-TV.
He was charged with burglary of an occupied dwelling and petit theft for the first incident, police said. Further charges were possible pending the outcome of the death investigation.