Ruya Kadir was a refugee girl in the most refugee-friendly city in America when a stranger with a large folding knife attacked her third birthday party on Saturday, stabbing her along with five other refugee children.
“He is an American,” Chief Bill Bones of the Boise, Idaho, police would later say of the suspect. “Not a refugee.”
Two of the victims at the outdoor celebration turned horror were 4 years old. The others were 6, 8, and 12. All six children were rushed to area emergency rooms, along with three adults who had tried to stop the attack.
The birthday girl was so badly wounded that the doctors decided to medevac her to specialists 340 miles away in Salt Lake City. Refugee assistance people in Boise provided an airline ticket to the mother, who had brought her daughter from Ethiopia to America in December 2015, when Ruya was just 5 months old.
The mother now kept vigil in a Utah hospital while specialists did all they could to save her little girl who had just turned 3 and loved Disney princesses and the color pink.
The specialists fought on through Sunday. But by Monday morning they could do no more.
“It is with deep sorrow we share the news that she has passed away,” the Boise City Police said in a statement.
In the stunned aftermath, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) reported that the caseworkers who knew Ruya described her as “a child who always sparkled when she walked into a room.”
“The epitome of sweetness,” the IRC noted.
The suspect, 30-year-old Timmy Earl Kinner, appeared in court early Monday afternoon, shortly after the death of the birthday girl become known. He offered no tears beyond the one tattooed at the corner of his left eye along with the letter M.
As detailed in court papers, Kinner is American-born-and-raised proof that the biggest threat we face is not at our borders but within our confines, in ourselves. He had previously been arrested in Tennessee for sexual assault, assault with bodily injury, robbery, and weapons possession. He was in and out of state custody before he was hit with a federal firearms charge in 2008 and sentenced to 48 months, the gun in question being a Springfield Armory .40 caliber semiautomatic pistol.
The sentence was followed by a period of supervised release whose conditions he repeatedly violated. He was arrested again for possession of a weapon and again for assault as well as for indecent exposure. He filed four federal lawsuits concerning his treatment at the Shelby County Correctional facility (SCC).
In one suit, Kinner sought to hold the State of Tennessee liable for not preventing a fellow inmate named Craig Atkins from possessing a razor blade. Never mind that Atkins used the razor to defend himself from Kinner’s attempt to extort the other man’s lunch from him.
“Oct 20, 2012, before noon, I entered inmate Cedric Aktins’ cell,” Kinner admits in his handwritten lawsuit. “I talked to him briefly, he told me he would give me his lunch tray at lunch time.”
Kinner goes on, “So at lunch time, inmate Atkins called me from the dayroom and I entered his cell and he began to cut me with a razor. After cutting me, he ran from his cell into the hallway.”
Kinner deemed it unjust that he as well as Atkins was charged with aggravated assault.
“I would like to receive $3,00,000 monetary compensation for my pain and suffering and mental distress, humiliation and embarrassment,” Kinner writes.
In another suit, Kinner complained that guards had ignored his threats to kill himself.
“Only after I made an attempt to hang myself from the sprinkler system and it went off causing the cell to flood was I then removed and placed on suicide precaution status,” Kinner’s suit states.
He further complained that there was “mold and moisture on walls nearby bunk area” and that “food service at SCC is terrible.”
“Whoever is responsible for this department should be punished for all the terrible ‘meals’ I have been suffering through,” his suit says.
He adds, “Also, inadequate portions.”
Not only that, certain guards were guilty of “unsanitary practices while assisting in issuing food trays and beverages.”
“Only wear gloves and not beard guards, face-masks, hairnets,” Kinner alleges. “Thereby, subjecting me to illness and contagious disease.”
The suit allows that Kinner was at one point charged with assaulting a guard named Ian Campbell.
“I don’t recall ever assaulting him,” Kinner wrote in the suit. “However I do recall him forgetting to feed me lunch on September 12, 2014 at approximately 1123 hours.”
He then corrected himself.
“Apology, actually it was the day before. I was not fed lunch on September 11, 2014.”
Kinner contended that guards were unnecessarily brutal and free with chemical control agents when he resisted their instructions. He complained that his hands were injured in the struggle after he refused to remove his arms from the food slot in the door to his cell in the segregation unit. The guards noted in their response to his suit that they felt a particular necessity to secure the flap that covered the slot when it was not needed for delivering and taking away meal trays.
“Inmate Kinner was a known sexual offender who had used the open flap to indecently expose himself to female officers as well as nurses in the past," the guards assert in court papers.
Kinner declared himself falsely accused.
“I want $100,000,000, one hundred million dollars in cash from the bank for my suffering,” he wrote.
After his release, Kinner got a Facebook page in which he listed himself as a graduate of “Streetsmart High.” He drifted from Tennessee to Los Angeles to Utah, where he lived in a homeless shelter and was arrested in April for stealing a man’s wallet that contained $700. He was placed on probation, which he violated when he left the state.
He appears to have arrived in Boise in the latter part of last month. He convinced somebody in the Wylie Station apartments to put him up. The 40-unit complex is home to refugees from Ethiopia, Iraq, and Syria.
While Kinner had been down in Tennessee developing into a prime example of Made-in-the-USA pathology, Boise and the rest of Ada County had been welcoming refugees who were seeking safety and a new life in America. A study released last month (PDF) found that immigrants in Ada County had contributed $1.8 billion to the county’s economy in 2016. Foreign-born workers earned more than $638 million, paying in excess of $109 million in federal and local taxes.
Kinner seems to have been one new arrival in Boise who was bent only on trouble. The host seems to have become either weary or worried by Kinner’s behavior and asked him to leave on Friday. Kinner is said to have departed peacefully.
On Saturday afternoon, thousands gathered in Boise for one of the “Families Belong Together” rallies held nationwide to protest the Trump administration’s zero tolerance immigration policy.
That night, an immigrant family’s dream was made manifest with little Ruya’s third birthday party. She seemed to have a fabulous childhood filled with Disney princesses and pink ahead of her, to be followed by her own part in Boise’s immigrant success story. She was herself a sparkly princess of possibility.
Then, just after 8:30 p.m., Kinner allegedly appeared with a folding knife.
“To exact vengeance,” Police Chief Bones would later say.
The former host was not at home, so Kinner instead allegedly fell upon Ruya and the other kids at the party. There is no telling how many may have died had he been armed with a .40 caliber automatic pistol such as he had once favored, had this been yet another mass shooting. The carnage he allegedly was able to inflict in this mass stabbing would bring to mind the poet’s famous line, “After the first death there is no other.”
Kinner then fled but was arrested at gunpoint by the police who responded within minutes. The officers recovered the folding knife from the canal where Kinner had allegedly tossed it.
Bones arrived. He seemed shaken when he later addressed the press.
“The crime scene, the faces of the parents struggling, the tears coming down their faces, the faces of the children in the hospital beds, will be something that I will carry with me for the rest of my life,” Bones said. “And so will every first responder that was there last night.”
Bones also said, “These are victims who in their past homes have fled violence from Syria, Iraq and Ethiopia.”
But he and seemingly the rest of Boise also embraced these refugee kids as their own.
“This is an attack against those who are most vulnerable, our children,” Bones declared. “It’s untenable, unconscionable, and is pure evil in my mind.”
The little princess of possibility was medevac’d to Salt Lake City, in the same state where Kinner was still under a court order to pay $700 in restitution to the man whose wallet he had stolen.
Word that the doctors had been unable to save Ruya reached Boise not long before Kinner appeared in court. His minders reported that he had been “aggressive” in jail. Judge Russell Comstock asked if he understood the charges against him.
“No, no, sir,” Kinner said.
“What don’t you understand?” Comstock inquired.
“I don’t understand none of this,” Kinner replied.
Later on Monday, the people of Boise held a vigil outside city hall, where Mayor Dave Bieter had been noting that his own grandparents were refugees from the Basque country. Proof that Boise remains the most welcoming of American cities took the form of messages that a local reporter saw chalked on the sidewalk outside the scene of this most heinous crime. One read:
“WE STAND WITH YOU.”