Hundreds honor Kennewick children at memorial

Pictures of Kaitlin and Ethan Austin sat propped up in the Kamiakin High School gym Thursday as hundreds from the community showed up to honor the Kennewick children.

The crowd gathered, along with the Austin family, to celebrate their lives more than a week after they were found shot to death in their Hansen Park home.

Family members shared memories of both children that were written by their parents. Many in the crowd wiped away tears as family members described their personalities.

Kaitlin, or "Kadie Bug," 16, a junior at Kamiakin High, was a passionate softball player who loved art, spending weekends with friends and her boyfriend of more than two years, her family said.

"(Kaitlin) was a beautiful, happy young lady, always with a smile on her face," the family wrote. "She was smart and loved to challenge herself both athletically and in the classroom."

Ethan, 12, a sixth-grader at Desert Hills, was an avid outdoorsman who loved golf, Boy Scouts and hanging out with his dad.

"He was very outgoing, confident, friendly and had a caring and loving heart," family members wrote.

An autopsy showed Kaitlin was shot multiple times and Ethan had a gunshot wound to his head. A gun was found near the bodies and no one else is believed to be involved. There were never any suspects, police said.

Authorities declined to release any other details about the shooting.

Police said they will wait until forensic evidence comes back before determining exactly what happened inside the Austin home June 9.

Pastor Rob Hagen of First Presbyterian Church in Kennewick asked the crowd to put speculation and judgment aside during Thursday's ceremony and take time to remember each child.

Kaitlin dreamed of being a nurse one day and maybe of raising a family with her boyfriend, family members said. Her best friend was her mom, Cyndi, and she was an honor student.

Ethan, or "Nuggie," loved hunting with his dad, archery and playing chess, family said. He attended church and wanted to someday play in the First Presbyterian band.

Video tributes of both children were shown on a big screen as music played in the background. Many pictures from childhood showed Ethan and Kaitlin smiling with friends, participating in activities and hanging out with family at Curlew Lake.

The crowd was encouraged to write memories of the children on slips of paper that could be given to the family.

Both children are survived by their parents, Cyndi and Drew Austin, sister, Rachel, grandparents Debbie and Arvid Larson, and many aunts, uncles and cousins.

A memorial fund for the family has been set up at HAPO Credit Union under the name "Austin Family Fund."

Go to www.AskHillcrest.com to offer online condolences.

-- Tyler Richardson: 509-582-1556; trichardson@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @Ty_richardson