12-year-old Ciara Meyer from Pennsylvania is dead after being fatally shot by a police constable on Monday. Apparently, the little girl stayed home from school that day due to an illness.
According to multiple reports, the officer was serving an eviction notice to Ciara’s father and intended to shoot him, but the bullet somehow passed through Donald Meyer’s arm and struck his daughter instead. Meyer, 12, tragically died at the scene.
WGAL-TV posted a lengthy statement about the tragic accident from Pennsylvania State Police, who are currently investigating the incident that took place a little bit after 10 a.m. on Monday. The statement said that the father answered the front door, closed it and reopened it again, and then engaged in a heated argument with the constable before aiming his loaded .223 caliber rifle directly at his chest.
Steele, who was dressed in his work uniform at the time, responded by firing a shot from his .40-caliber weapon, police said. “The bullet traveled through the suspect’s arm and struck the suspect’s 12-year-old daughter, who was standing directly behind her father,” the statement said. “The suspect was flown to the Hershey Medical Center, where he is undergoing medical care. The suspect’s daughter was pronounced dead at the scene.”
A neighbor heard the gunshot and became overwhelmed with grief. “I burst into tears,” she told CNN affiliate WHTM. “I can’t understand it; it’s horrible.” She was scared to tell her own daughter about what happened.
“She’s not going to handle it very well. It’s horrible. How do you tell a little girl that something like this happened? How do you explain that? I’m an adult, and I don’t understand it,” said the woman, whom WHTM did not name.
The bullet apparently shattered a bone in Meyer’s arm and he had to be flown out to a hospital to receive medical treatment. According to People, Mr. Meyer’s rifle was found with a magazine that contained 30 rounds of bullets as well as a loaded chamber. In the meantime, the little girl’s father has currently been charged with aggravated assault, making threats, simple assault, and endangering another person, police said.
Bill Stoeffler, a spokesman for the Constables’ Association, said on Tuesday that Steele was completely emotional over this tragedy. He also said that it wasn’t intended for the young girl to get shot at all.
“It was absolutely not intentional that the girl was shot,” Stoeffler said. “The constable fired one round when he faced an immediate threat from which he could not retreat safely – he had no other force options … The situation degraded so quickly he had no time to call anyone.”
This wasn’t the first time that Steele made a visit to the Meyer’s apartment. In fact, he’s been there many times regarding eviction and even gave Meyer a Jan 11 deadline to move out of the apartment. “It was absolutely no surprise he was coming at this date and time,” said Trooper Rob Hicks, state police spokesman.
Steele was basically there to issue an eviction order. According to court documents, Donald and Sherry Meyer owed approximately $1,780 in court costs and back rent.
“The family had not appealed the eviction order,” Hicks said. “His lawful job, because he had a valid court order, was to remove them from the property if they had not already moved,” Hicks explained, referring to the constable.
According to the Associated Press, they stated that in the state of Pennsylvania even though constables are considered to be elected officials, they only have limited law enforcement powers. They perform certain types of duties which include issuing warrants and transporting prisoners to jail.
Pennsylvania state police are continuing to investigate this senseless tragedy with the Perry County district attorney’s office. In the meantime, an autopsy for young Ciara Meyer is set for Wednesday.
[Image by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images]