By Lindsey Bever January 13 at 8:57 AM
Pennsylvania girl accidentally shot dead by constable
Police say a 12-year-old girl in Pennsylvania was accidentally shot dead by a local constable who came to evict her family from their apartment. (Reuters)
Twelve-year-old Ciara Meyer was standing behind her father when a constable came to the door.
The constable was serving an eviction notice to them Monday morning at their apartment in Penn Township, Pa., when the girl’s father protested and then pointed a rifle at his chest. The officer pulled his gun and squeezed the trigger, police said.
The bullet, police said, went though the man’s arm and hit his daughter. She died at the scene.
The account was provided on Tuesday to ABC affiliate WHTM by Pennsylvania state police in Newport.
“Very kind, sweet kid,” a neighbor told the station. “Here’s a little girl that doesn’t even have a chance to grow up and live her life, and all because of this senseless act. It’s horrible, absolutely heartbreaking.”
Ciara was sick and had stayed home from school Monday when Pennsylvania State Constable Clarke Steele showed up at their apartment, according to WHTM-TV.
Her father, Donald Meyer, 57, shut the door, police told the station. Then, according to police, he opened it again and aimed a .223-caliber rifle at the constable.
“Constable Steele, who was in uniform, quickly removed his .40 caliber duty weapon from its holster and fired a single round striking the suspect in his upper left arm,” police said, according to CNN.
A neighbor heard the shot. It wasn’t until later she found out who had been killed.
“I burst into tears,” she told WHTM-TV. “I can’t understand it; it’s horrible.”
The neighbor, who was not named, said that her daughter was friends with Ciara and that she didn’t know how to tell her that Ciara was gone.
“She’s not going to handle it very well,” she told the station. “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.”
Ciara’s death is among at least 22 police shootings that have resulted in fatalities so far this year, according to a Washington Post database.
[Prosecutors will seek murder charges against Georgia officer who shot an unarmed, naked black man]
Meyer was transported to Penn State Hershey Medical Center via helicopter. He has been charged with aggravated assault, simple assault, terroristic threats and reckless endangerment.
He will be held at Perry County Prison without bail, police told WHTM-TV. A preliminary court hearing is set for Jan. 15.
A source close to the constable told the station that he is “very distraught over the situation.” A Commonwealth Constables Association spokesman told WHTM-TV that he opted to “suspend his work” during the police investigation.
[Former S.C. police officer who fatally shot Walter Scott released from jail]
The Susquenita School District said it is working with counselors to “provide support to students and staff” during this time.
“Procedures are in place across the district to address potential impacts of this incident to our students and staff,” Superintendent Kent Smith said in a statement. “Susquenita administration and additional professional staff (psychologists and guidance counselors) are working in conjunction with counselors from Holy Spirit (Teen Line) to provide support to students and staff as needed.
“Until permission is received from investigating authorities, the district is not at liberty to share any additional details.”
“She was a sweet little girl — so kind, so loving,” neighbor Sarah Harman told PennLive.com. “I just hope she didn’t suffer. … A child doesn’t deserve that — they are a precious gift from God.”
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the family pay for Ciara’s funeral arrangements.
Lindsey Bever is a general assignment reporter for The Washington Post. Tweet her: @lindseybever