KUTZTOWN, Pa. – A Kutztown University student was beaten to death on a downtown sidewalk early Friday by three men who evidently chose their victim at random, police said.
The suspects, all from Allentown, were charged with assaulting Kyle Quinn, 19, who was pronounced dead at a hospital about an hour after the attack. The district attorney said he anticipated filing homicide charges pending the results of an autopsy scheduled for Saturday.
Kutztown's president, F. Javier Cevallos, called the beating a "senseless isolated random act of violence" and urged students to be vigilant.
A police officer in the small college town happened upon the scene shortly before 2:30 a.m., saw Quinn on the ground and arrested the men, who are not students, Berks County District Attorney Mark Baldwin said.
"He had been beaten and was lying in a pool of blood on the sidewalk," Baldwin said.
The suspects were identified as Terry D. Kline Jr., who turned 22 on Thursday; his brother Kenneth R. Kline, 21; and Timothy R. Gearhart, 23.
The men did not respond to reporters' questions as they were led into court for their arraignments. All three told District Judge Wallace Scott they had prior arrests, and the judge set bail at $10 million each.
Quinn, a sophomore history major from Warminster, had transferred to Kutztown after taking classes at Penn State and a summer course at Bucks County Community College, according to the university. He had been on campus less than two weeks.
Quinn was attacked on Main Street, not far from shops, bars, restaurants and off-campus apartments in downtown Kutztown. The quaint town has about 5,000 residents and lies in a rural area between Reading and Allentown.
It was Kutztown's first homicide since 1982 and only the third since 1968, officials said.
Witnesses said they heard yelling and screaming and saw Quinn motionless on the sidewalk. Police tried to stanch Quinn's bleeding and took the three men into custody. Kenneth Kline, who has a mohawk haircut, kept saying "I'm sorry, I'm sorry" as he was being handcuffed, according to one witness.
Quinn lived on campus, but investigators "don't know where he would have been coming from or going to at the time," borough Police Chief Theodore Cole said.
Authorities were investigating what the motive might have been for the attack about a half-mile from campus.
According to a police affidavit, the three suspects were among a group of five men who had driven from Allentown to a Kutztown bar. One of the men, Derik Houser, told police that after leaving the bar, the Kline brothers and Gearhart "got out of the car and started causing a problem with a group of kids." Houser said he saw Terry Kline throw a punch at Quinn and yell expletives at him.
The suspects were charged with aggravated assault, simple assault and conspiracy.
At the arraignment, Terry Kline said he felt sick to his stomach and bent his head over a trash can. His brother rested his head on the defense table. Quinn's mother and father stared at the brothers and Gearhart.
Quinn is the son of Leo Quinn, the chairman of the Warminster Township supervisors. He worked at the township's Five Ponds Golf Course for parts of three summers.
His online profile reveals a fondness for 1960s counterculture. Quinn listed his favorite movie as "Easy Rider," one of his favorite books as "Dharma Bums" by Jack Kerouac and his favorite musician as Bob Dylan.
"I like a lot of other stuff but if WWIII started tomorrow I would only grab my Dylan albums," Quinn wrote on Facebook, the online social networking site.
Within hours of his death, friends began posting messages on Quinn's Facebook page.
"Don't be afraid of death, for it is only the beginning of the greatest adventure of all, The Unknown," wrote one.
"Life without you seems so empty. I know that you're smiling down on us right now with that great smile," wrote another.
Students and full-time residents say they have always felt safe in Kutztown.
"It's Amishville," said Marissa Petruzzi, 20, a junior from New Jersey, referring to Kutztown's location in Pennsylvania Dutch country. "This stuff doesn't happen here."
Erma Gajewski, who works at an antique store a few feet from where Quinn was beaten, said violent crime is practically unheard of here.
"I always felt safe in Kutztown. I still do, but this is scary," she said.
Students, staff and residents plan to start a neighborhood watch program in the borough next week, Bob Watrous, Kutztown's dean of students, said in a statement. He also announced plans for a private memorial service to be held on campus.
Cevallos, Kutztown's president, e-mailed students at 10 a.m. Friday to inform them of Quinn's death. The university, one of 14 state-run colleges, has about 10,000 full- and part-time undergraduate and graduate students.