Police serving an eviction order to a Pennsylvania home shot and killed a 12-year-old girl when a bullet passed through her father, who she was standing behind, and struck her.
The girl has been identified as Ciara Meyer, NBC News reports. Police fired at her father, 57-year-old Donald Bartho Meyer Jr., when he pointed a .223 caliber rifle at Constable Clarke Steele, according to the report.
Steele fired his service weapon, striking Meyer in the arm. The bullet passed through Meyer, hitting Ciara and killing her.
Police were serving an eviction order to Meyer, who reportedly owed $1,780.85 in a landlord-tenant dispute.
Meyer was treated at Hershey Medical Center. He was being held without bond pending a preliminary hearing Friday on state charges of aggravated assault, simple assault, making terroristic threats and recklessly endangering another person, according to court records.
State Police Trooper Robert T. Hicks told NBC station WGAL of Lancaster that Meyer knew the eviction notice was coming Monday, “so it was no surprise.”
“Unfortunately, the constable was put into a situation where he had to defend himself,” Hicks said. “Unfortunately, that little girl just happened to be behind her father at the time.”
Still, relatives of the victim say the shooting could have been prevented.
“He [the father] was definitely wrong, and it could have been prevented,” WGAL quoted the relative as saying. “We as a family completely blame Don for this.”
School psychologists and guidance counselors were on hand at Ciara’s Susquenita District school to assist grieving students and staff. A GoFundMe page has been created to help raise money to pay for Ciara’s funeral arrangements.
“Ciara was a loving vibrant 12-year-old whose life was cut short far too early,” the page reads.
“She was in her home when a single gunshot ended her life. This was a terrible ending to a horrific series of events that could have been prevented. Her family and friends will miss her. This campaign is to help her mother, lay CC to rest, and fund a scholarship in The Susquenita School District against Domestic Violence and Mental Illness. We intend that she be remembered forever and her death have some meaning.”