Annalysa McMillan, 19, was driving in her car last week through the town of Marion, about 70 miles north of Indianapolis. In the rear seat sitting behind her was Austin Smith, 22, who was allegedly carrying an AR-15 assault rifle. As the vehicle approached an intersection, the gun discharged, for reasons that, as of this writing, remain unclear. A bullet struck the Gas City teen.
McMillan lost control of the vehicle, causing a minor accident. When police arrived on the scene, they attempted life-saving measures, but it was too late. She was pronounced dead of a single gunshot wound to the back.
McMillan had celebrated her 19th birthday five days earlier.
The two other people in McMillan’s vehicle were not injured, according to People.
Mark Atkinson, the lead pastor at Eastview Wesleyan Church in Gas City, where McMillan attended, described McMillan as a “bubbly young lady who had a bright future,” and sand that he had recently written a recommendation letter for her.
“The last text that she sent to her stepfather was that she loved him and, those things are glued to hold tight when everything is trying to blow you apart,” he said.
He also called on people who knew the young lady to trust in their faith during these difficult times.
“I do believe there are a lot of things that there’s no way to answer, so we just have to trust in the Lord,” Atkinson said.
Austin Smith, meanwhile, has been charged with reckless homicide and criminal recklessness while armed with a deadly weapon. He’s being held on a $1,005 bond.
Why he was carrying a loaded AR-15 assault rifle, and whether or not McMillan knew that her passenger was carrying a loaded weapon, is unclear, as of this writing.
The type of weapon used in this alleged crime has been used before, particularly in some mass shootings, such as the one at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida.
Writing in The Atlantic, Heather Sher, a radiologist who treated some of the victims of the shooting, describes the type of wounds a round from this weapon can deliver.
“In a typical handgun injury… a bullet leaves a laceration through an organ such as the liver. To a radiologist, it appears as a linear, thin, gray bullet track through the organ. [But an organ injured by an AR-15 round] looked like an overripe melon smashed by a sledgehammer, and was bleeding extensively. How could a gunshot wound have caused this much damage?” she writes.