Kiana O’Neil, the 14-year-old girl shot dead by her stepfather as she climbed in a basement window of her family’s Colorado Springs home early Monday morning, was remembered as “an amazing friend” and “one of the nicest, coolest and funniest people I know” on a Facebook page set up in her memory.
Meanwhile, police continued trying to sort out why her 29-year-old stepfather, an active-duty, highly decorated Army officer and Iraq War veteran, fired at her and killed her. The young girl, a freshman student at Vista Ridge High School, was hit in the stomach and chest, the Alamosa Valley Courier reported.
Army 2nd Lieutenant Daniel Meade called 911 to report that he shot a burglar at his home in the northeastern section of Colorado Springs, but then told the 911 operator that the person he had shot was in fact his stepdaughter, Kiana.
The girl was still alive when police arrived, but passed away shortly after reaching a nearby hospital.
According to information obtained by the Daily Mail newspaper from officials at Fort Carson, the Army base where Meade is stationed, the 10-year veteran has led a distinguished military career, having been awarded the Bronze Star, National Defense Service Medal, and Global War of Terrorism Service Medal.
Although details of the incident remain unconfirmed, it appears that O’Neil may have spent a night, or at least the latter part of the night, out of the home without the knowledge of her stepfather, Meade, or her mother, Monica Meade.
As she attempted to re-enter the house surreptitiously, under this scenario, her stepfather heard her and thought that a burglar was attempting to enter the house. According to witnesses, he then fired three shots from a weapon yet to be described by police.
“I heard three bangs,” said a neighbor Jani Harvey, speaking to local TV station KTRK. “They weren’t all right together. It was like bang, bang, bang.”
Why Meade felt the need to fire at the supposed burglar remains a mystery.
Under a 1985 Colorado law, commonly referred to as the “Make My Day” law, homeowners may use deadly force against any home invader, but only if they believe that the intruder intends to use physical force in the commission of a crime. What Kiana might have done to make her stepfather believe that she was an intruder intending to use force against him is still a puzzle.
Meade has not been arrested and currently faces no charges in the death of his stepdaughter. The district attorney’s office is conducting an investigation to determine whether Meade broke any laws, or if his fatal actions are protected on the grounds of “Make My Day.”