In Harm's Way: Remembering the Life of Kaiim Vieira

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Kaiim Vieira was born in a Brooklyn hospital 18 years ago today. He grew into a six-foot-two teen who had a knack for getting folks to laugh even when they didn’t want to. He used to call his mother by the nickname “Muffin.”

A week and a half ago, Kaiim was shot 10 times and killed after an altercation on Fulton Street in Brooklyn. It was less than three miles from where his own father was gunned down 14 years ago.

"My son became another statistic, and that was something I said he would never be,” said Kaiim’s grief-stricken mother, Iasia Tyre, through tears.

Since Kaiim’s death on September 14, his large extended family has banded together at his aunt’s apartment in the Gowanus Houses to make arrangements, stay on top of the police investigation and, more than anything, comfort each other. A big part of that has been sharing stories about Kaiim.

Tyre, 37, said her son, who was known for his goofy dancing and joke telling, got his sense of humor from his father.

“We went out to eat one time and [father and son] were sticking candy in their nose,” she recalled. “The two of them -- doing the same thing.”

In March 1998, their joyous days abruptly ended when Kaiim's father, Trevor, was shot and killed by an acquaintance in the East New York section of Brooklyn.

Kaiim was 3-years old and didn’t understand that his father was dead.

"He would ask me every day, ‘Did daddy wake up yet? Did daddy wake up yet?’" Tyre said, admitting that she was filled with guilt that Kaiim had to grow up without his father.

Tyre went back to school to get her Master's degree to better her family’s life and get them out of public housing in Queens. She began working for the Administration for Children’s Services, the city agency that aims to protect the city’s kids from abuse and neglect.

(Photo: In this family photograph, Iasia Tyre, a proud mother, looks dreamily at her baby boy Kaiim. Courtesy of Iasia Tyre)

But she said trying to teach her own son about surviving painful episodes like getting beat up was the most challenging job. Tyre said the cruelty of the streets caught up with her son and he started to get in trouble.

He had a knife pulled on him and had a tooth chipped in fight by the time he was in high school, she said.

Tyre drove Kaiim to and from school, met with teachers, counselors — and eventually judges — but everything she tried ultimately failed to protect him.

“I'm supposed to save people's children but I couldn't save my own,” said Tyre, her voice cracking. “And that hurt. And I tried. I tried.”

Tyre vows to move to Maryland to give Kaiim's younger brother a chance to grow up far from life-interrupting violence.

“I give myself two months and I'm leaving,” she said. “I refuse to raise another child in NYCHA. I refuse to raise another child in New York City."

Tyre is planning to visit her son’s gravesite at Rosehill Cemetery in Linden, N.J. today.

She’ll be releasing 18 balloons in honor of Kaiim’s birthday.


WNYC is profiling the life of every child in the city killed by gunfire in our series In Harm’s Way.

Kathleen Horan/WNYC
Iasia Tyre, 37, said her son Kaiim used to call her 'Muffin.'
Courtesy of Iasia Tyre
A young Kaiim is pictured here with his father, Trevor, and his paternal grandmother, Gloria Parks.
Courtesy of Iasia Tyre
Trevor Vieira and a young Kaiim pose for a family portrait.
Courtesy of Iasia Tyre
Kaiim is shown clowning around in a sharp white suit in family photos.
Stan Gaz
The Brooklyn sidewalks, less than three miles apart, where father and son were murdered.

The intersection of Bradford and Pitkin in East New York (left) is where Trevor Vieira was killed in 1998. The corner of Fulton and Schenectady avenues is where Kaiim was shot on September 14.

Stan Gaz
Kaiim’s funeral service at Bedford Central Presbyterian Church in Crown Heights
Kathleen Horan/WNYC
Grandmother Valerie Bowens holding Kaiim’s younger brother Quinn.
Courtesy of Iasia Tyre
A photo pin of Kaiim when he was a toddler.


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Comments [23]

Valerie from Bklyn

A year has past and we are still at a standstill, no witnesses have come forward even though there were allegedly 3 persons with Kaiim. There is motive, there are suspects, no one has been questioned. Can anyone help with how I can get the Detectives to move their feet before this is just another teen from the hood gone. I miss my grandson so much.

Oct. 26 2013 09:05 PM

I miss this kid so much it hurts! Never in a million years would I have thought this would've happened to anyone I knew, let alone the one I called brother. A year later and the pain is grater-how could such a horrible feeling be magnified?!?! My heart is broken. God knows I don't understand why, why you? why our family? why your mother? She is the last person who deserves any pain. All I have left of you are memories, pictures, & one pair of pants...what I wouldn't give for you instead.

Sep. 26 2013 03:53 AM
mdm from UWS

I am so sorry for Kaiim's family. We are failing the residents of NYCHA. I don't know the answer. But to lose two generations in one family, from gun violence shows a systemic problem that can't be tackled by one determined mom.

It sounds like she did everything she possibly could to do right by her son. But in the end, you can't control the world that your children will live in. That's not the responsibility of one mother, it's the responsibility of all our city residents.

New York City has become for some residents a Newtown in slow-motion. I hope this series can do something to bring the death of these kids into the fore of people's minds.

Jan. 09 2013 02:03 PM

@JoeyVieira Thank you for your comment. Per your request, we've passed along your contact information.

Oct. 03 2012 03:36 PM
Joey Vieira

This is Trevors brother,I'm sorry to hear about the loss of my nephew an the sad part is I never knew I had a nephew named Kaiim.

Oct. 03 2012 12:17 AM
Jalisa from Brooklyn ny

He didn't deserve to go so soon not like this but I love you Smiddy r.i.p people always ready to pull out a gun I guess that's how they was going to defend there self cause they know you were a fight :* I love you so much bestfriend

Oct. 01 2012 03:56 AM

Let's not pretend that merely presenting tearjerking stories and having people cry over them is the answer. The problem is that there is such an uproar over "stop-and-risk" because it "targets minority youth." It is misguided and misplaced to pretend that gang violence and street crimes do not happen in the neighborhoods that certain people want to keep the police out of. It hurts people who have to live in those ghettos and housing projects to not have any kind of surveillance over what is happening on street corners and outside of schools or buildings. Would it have been worse if this young man had been stopped and frisked , or at least questioned, than getting shot by gangs or getting caught up with them?

Sep. 28 2012 11:02 AM
joleita roberts from New York

I know what muffin is going through i been in her shoe i loss my son three years ago at the age of 17 over a gun shot the pain does not go away but in due time it will ease down because i talk to god an ask him to help me get through this. If it wasn't for my daughter i dont how i would have made it. I love and miss my son so much if i can turn the clock around just to see him again i would. They have to stop with these guns an get them off the street because i wouldn't want to see nooooo mother lost their child over guns. Please we have to stop this foolish killing each other. I will continue praying for muffin and her family because i feel her pain god look ove her like u do with me give her strength to move bless her heart an keep her strong in the name of jesus Amen. SIP Kaiim

Sep. 27 2012 01:30 AM
Tanya Cameron from Orlando, Florida

I know the mother of the slain young man Kaiim. Ms Tyre and myself attended high School together and I always hear great stories about her son. I am truly sorry for her loss. She is a great mother and I pray she has comfort in knowing that he is in a better place. R.I.P. Kaiim!!

Sep. 26 2012 09:37 PM
glork from Glen Ridge, NJ

Thank you WNYC and Kathleen Horan for bringing this tragic yet achingly beautiful story to myself and my family. We appreciate it so much and know firsthand how close the call is that "it could have been one of us" as my teen son travels to high school in Newark, NJ daily.

Kaiim and his mother are deeply affecting people and the grief over this loss is both told and sensed so intensely and poignantly. Here was a diligent,industrious mother sacrificing and striving to raise a well-loved, grounded and happy young man, only to see all the potential evaporate in an instant. How ? Why ?
What happened to everything we used to be? How can these tragedies have become the coin of New York's realm? Are we so hardened in our hearts against our children?
Who can say what to do to rectify these circumstances?
My deepest sympathies to the family and my best wishes as you bear this
anguish. I hope your memories of the years that you were blessed to have your beautiful and joyful son comfort you. My family and I are praying for you.

Thank you for sharing this story.

Sep. 26 2012 08:49 PM

Heard this story this morning and I cried; I lived in Brooklyn and could not take all the "excitement" and moved to Jersey because I wanted the best for my only son. Kaiim mom is a tropper and getting out is the best thing she can do. My heart goes out to the family.

Sep. 26 2012 04:25 PM
Sophie from Poughkeepsie, NY

So incredibly heartbreaking.

Sep. 26 2012 04:06 PM
Elizabeth from Newark, New Jersey

Jesus Christ! So sad. RIP little one. My heart goes out to Mom and the rest of the family!

Sep. 26 2012 12:36 PM
Roy from Queens

I have a nephew, who's two years old. His father's not in the picture, so it's up to me to be a role model to him and steer him away from bad elements, let alone bad people.

Sep. 26 2012 12:06 PM

So very sad :( Heartbroken for the family Kaiim leaves behind and for their tremendous loss, twice. Happy Birthday Kaiim, wherever you are... hopefully with daddy now. Hugs and condolences for Iasia and her family.

Sep. 26 2012 11:51 AM
Kevin from Spanish Harlem

This is a remarkably important series. Just when I think WNYC cannot get any better. It does. Bravo.

Sep. 26 2012 11:48 AM
Humberto Neto from United States

Poor lady, she has aged beyond her short 37 years. My heart breaks for this family.
May he rest in peace

Sep. 26 2012 11:26 AM
Michelle Plaveczky from Westfield, NJ

What a beautiful boy and a tragic, horrifically sad story. My deepest empathy goes to Miss Iasia and her family- both for the loss of Kaiim and his son is 3, worships his father, I can only imagine the family's pain in that loss- and now the loss of Kaiim. If positive thoughts from strangers help- I hope the Tyre's will feel me thinking of them as they celebrate Kaiim life today, work through their grief and move forward to Maryland. All the best to Miss Iasia!!!

Sep. 26 2012 08:55 AM
Frank from Glendale, NY

This story made me cry. Cry for the waste, and the loss. Guns, violence, drugs corrode neighborhoods, families and take lives.

WNYC, please continue this series. New York City, please force this series to be unnecessary.

Sep. 26 2012 08:45 AM
rachel from red hook

Thank you for doing this important series. It reminds us that every person is uniquely and infinitely precious, and that anyone's suffering should affect us all.

Sep. 26 2012 08:44 AM
Brenda from Jersey City, NJ

The NRA, Mitt, and specially Ryan do not want their guns taken away. While "recreational" shooters fight for their right to bare arms, other have to fight against not wanting gun in their neighborhoods, but unless all give up their WEAPONS, nothing will get done. The production of fire arms is a HUGE business, so unless a very large percentage of the population reaches out and make their support for gun control heard, nothing will change and more children and innocent people will continue to die.

Sep. 26 2012 08:38 AM
Mohamed from New York

Something needs to be done about gun in this country and world. Its too easy to get one and use it. I am not condoning fighting but in the years before all these gun violence and weapons, you fought with your hands and you won some and you lost some, but you lived to see another day. With guns there no thinking, you pull the trigger and walk away. This very sadden to hear a young man looses his life when its only just beginning.

Sep. 26 2012 08:31 AM
David Evans from Harrisonburg, VA

Heart breaking.

Sep. 26 2012 08:08 AM

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