Reading Eagle | By Jason A. Kahl
There are no memorials, no candles and no balloons at the house in the Centre Park Historic District where Richard A. Kulp was shot and killed Sunday.
All that marks the slaying are two large bullet holes in the front window of Kulp's first-floor apartment in the 400 block of Spring Street.
But the death has shaken the neighborhood and some members of the city police department, because the 40-year-old Kulp died for no reason.
"We believe he was a totally innocent victim," said Sgt. Matthew Schappell of the criminal investigations division. "It's not often we have truly innocent victims in the city."
Veteran police officers said they could count on one hand the number of innocent victims killed in Reading in the past decade. They agreed Kulp was one of them.
"It doesn't seem that he did anything or antagonized anybody that would've led to him being shot," Schappell said. "Everybody said he kept to himself and didn't do anything but work and spend time at home. He didn't bother people, and certainly was not involved in anything we know that would lead to his death.
"He was at home minding his own business."
Police responded to the block after neighbors reported hearing numerous gunshots Sunday shortly after 3 a.m. Officers knocked on doors and talked to people in the block but did not find anything.
Later that morning, neighbors found about a dozen shell casings and two bullet holes in the front bedroom window where Kulp lived with his best friend and housemate Joe Gunther.
One neighbor who has lived in the same house for 40 years said she was awakened by gunshots, but when she looked out the window she didn't see anything. She said it was the first slaying she knows of in the quiet, tree-lined block in the decades she has lived there.
Police entered the apartment Sunday about 11:30 a.m. and found Kulp dead on the living room floor. An autopsy showed he died of a gunshot wound to the chest. No arrests have been made, but police said they are still following up leads and doing interviews.
Kulp was home alone at the time. Police and relatives speculated that he may have gotten up when he heard gunfire and looked out his bedroom window, which is at the front of the house.
At some point he was shot in the chest and retreated to the interior living room, where he took off his glasses and lay down near the phone.
He did not get a chance to call 9-1-1.
Kulp's brother, Kevin Kulp, 33, Birdsboro, said investigators told him that his brother was probably in shock and died within minutes.
"They told us he put his glasses down and fell asleep and didn't suffer," Kevin Kulp said. "We're actually thankful for that, that he didn't suffer.
"I spoke to my pastor, and I've forgiven whoever did this to my brother - that's the main thing I want to get across. We don't want anyone to get angry at the police or anything.
"We don't want hatred, we just want peace and believe things will work out. It doesn't do any good to be bitter. I think truly he's in a better place now.
"The police who came here and didn't find him could be walking around blaming themselves, but we don't want them to feel like that. Under the circumstances they did the best they could and we understand. Even the shooter - there is no reason for us to be bitter, and we believe there will be justice."
Gunther, Richard Kulp's housemate, was baby-sitting for a relative the night of the shooting, Kevin Kulp said. Kulp said Gunther, who was unavailable for comment, feels bad that he was not with his best friend, believing the outcome may have been different.
The friends had lived together in the two-bedroom apartment for seven years, and both worked at Best Buy in Wyomissing. Richard Kulp unloaded trucks and sorted merchandise, and Gunther is on the Geek Squad repair crew.
Both shared a love of computers, games and science fiction.
Kevin Kulp said his brother was watching "Dr. Who," the television series that was one of his main passions, the night he was killed. He said he was surrounded by the comic books and science fiction novels that he loved.
He was scheduled to visit his brother's family and his mother, Claudia Kulp, on Sunday in Birdsboro as he did every weekend.
Kevin Kulp, who is a board game creator, said his brother was going to help him test play a new game he had just designed, but that never happened.
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READING: Shocking death of innocent man
Reading Eagle | By Jason A. Kahl