Rhonda Brewster can’t stop thinking about her son’s eyeglasses.
“His glasses were missing for about two weeks,” she said, touching the rims of her own glasses.
“There’s just a lot of questions,” Brewster said. “A child who wears glasses like I do all the time … He was shot in his right eye. How do his glasses come off his face? And by the time we found them, they were perfectly in tact. What happened? Did they get into an argument?”
Dillon Viens, 16, a Johnston resident and student at William M. Davies Jr. Career and Technical High School, died following an “accidental shooting” in a Cedar Street home on Feb. 12.
Johnston Police Chief Joseph P. Razza said the case is “still under investigation.”
Razza provided a statement to the media in response to recent inquiries.
“As you may not be aware, we are working in conjunction with the RI Attorney Generals office and still investigating the tragic death of Dillon Viens to the fullest extent possible,” Razza wrote via email. “Our deepest sympathies go out to the family and friends of Dillon, but the investigation is on going and still evolving and as more information becomes available, I will be able to advise the family, you and the rest of the media.”
Johnston Police arrested Marios M. Kirios, 29, of Cedar St., Johnston, as part of the "ongoing investigation into the shooting death” of Viens.
Kirios was charged with four misdemeanor counts of violating a state law that requires Safe Storage of a Firearm (RIGL 11-47-60.1). According to court records, Kirios was serving five years probation for a 2019 arrest.
“Why does he have weapons in his possession?” Brewster asked.
“How’s he out?” asked Dillon’s father, David Viens. “I’m pissed about that.”
He was facing four charges — for Fraudulent Checks (More than $1,500) — when he entered a plea of Nolo Contendere on one count, and was sentenced to probation and ordered to pay $32,000 in restitution.
The day after the shooting, Razza said: “We are treating the incident as accidental and those involved (are) fully cooperating with investigators.”
“Kirios, who was not at home at the time of the shooting, had legally possessed the firearms that were later seized as part of this investigation," according to a statement released by Johnston Police in February.
Kirios was arraigned the following Wednesday at Kent County Courthouse and was held as a Superior Court violator, according to Johnston Police.
He was soon released, however.
“In February … the state, presented the defendant as a probation violator because he had this new charge,” said Blake Collins, spokesman for Rhode Island Attorney General Peter F. Neronha. “And the court set bail for him over our objections.”
Collins confirmed that there is “a pending investigation, by the Attorney General’s Office and Johnston Police, into the shooting death of Dillon Viens.”
Collins said he could not provide details or answer questions on case specifics.
“It’s overwhelming, the things we’re waiting on,” Brewster said Tuesday. “Right now, they have Dillon’s phone with the FBI in Boston. They feel that supposedly Dillon was recording at the time he got shot. Supposedly. We don’t know if there’s anything on the phone. Pictures of what they were doing that day … That’s information that would help add to what was going on; what was taking place ... And how something innocent turned into … you know.”
Dillon Viens’ parents both wept. The last few months have been torture.
The family, aided by friends, recently held a rally demanding justice for Dillon Viens.
“It’s not fair for a child who was very involved in his community; very involved in outreach programs,” Brewster said. “This was not a child that was involved in drugs and guns and …”
“Skateboard and BMX,” his father interrupted.
“BMX and he went to see his sister play in flag football,” his mom continued.
Although Brewster and Viens live separately, they were working hard to raise their kids in Johnston.
“We don’t own any guns,” Brewster said. “That’s just not a part of our lives … He was a bright kid; a good student; a great friend. He didn’t judge people. He took people as they were.”
“He was going to Davies for mechanics,” said his father. “We want to keep things alive, until we find out what the charges are.”
“Stricter rules need to be applied,” Brewster added.
Brewster and Viens have started a petition, calling for stronger gun storage laws.
“Dillon is my son, my first true love and my greatest heartbreak,” Brewster wrote, in her online appeal for signatures. “I wouldn't wish this on no parent, grandparent, sibling, or anyone else in the world. The pain that I feel daily is overwhelming as all I want is to hug, kiss, and tell my boy I love him. Please sign and help us change the narrative of another child being taken by gun violence and negligence.”
They hope to help stir support for state legislation that would enact tougher penalties for irresponsible gun owners. They’d love to one day celebrate the passing of a bill named for their son — Dillon’s Law.
“What Dillon's Law would represent is a mandatory felony charge for any firearm not properly being secured, a fine up to $5,000, and five (5) years in prison,” Brewster wrote. “A misdemeanor charge for such a tragic event is simply not enough.”
In the meantime, Dillon’s parents demand answers to a few lingering questions.
“We don’t have his autopsy,” Brewster said.
“I know for a fact the weapon was washed,” added David Viens, who insists police told him the gun had been washed following the shooting, but before it was taken into evidence.
Dillon’s parents met with Johnston Police at their headquarters. A prosecutor from the Attorney General's’ Office joined via remote link.
“We were told by the state prosecutor that 911 wasn’t called until 40 minutes after the shooting,” David Viens said.
“What happened?” Brewster asked.