A 12-year-old Pennsylvania girl was fatally shot by a state constable who was serving an eviction notice to her family Monday morning, police said.
Ciara Meyer was killed after the uniformed constable fired at her father, who was holding a loaded .223 rifle when he opened the door to their Penn Township apartment, WHTM-TV reports.
The bullet traveled through the arm of Ciara’s father, 57-year-old Donald Meyer, before striking the girl. She was standing directly behind him, police said.
The shooting happened at about 10 a.m. at the Pfautz Apartments. The constable has been identified as Clarke Steele, 46.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Ciara’s Father Is Accused of Pointing a Loaded Rifle at the Constable’s Chest
The constable, Clark Steele, was serving an eviction order issued by District Judge Daniel McGuire to Donald Meyer at about 10 a.m. Monday, the Cumberlink Sentinel reports.
Police said Donald Meyer shut the door of the apartment on Steele. He then re-opened the door, this time armed with a rifle, according to police. During an exchange of words Meyer leveled the rifle at the constable’s chest, Meyer said. Steele drew his handgun and fired a single round, which hit Meyer in the upper left arm and then traveled on into Meyer’s daughter, Ciara, killing her.
Meyer was flown to the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Midcal Center, where he was still being treated Tuesday.
Police said the rifle had a loaded chamber and a magazine containing 30 rounds.
State constables in Pennsylvania are sworn law enforcement officers. Among their duties are to carry out the business of the statewide district court system by serving warrants and eviction orders. It is an elected position.
The family said Tuesday they don’t blame Steele.
“I cried for that constable,” said Ron Rohde, a spokesperson for the family told the Associated Press. “None of us in our family have any hard feelings toward him. Actually we feel sorry for him. He’s got to live with this, the poor man, and he had no idea what he was walking into.”
Bill Stoeffler, a spokesman for the region’s constables’ association told PennLive.com that Steele is “completely distraught over this incident — this is the worst nightmare any of us as constables can encounter.”
2. Ciara Was a Middle School Student Remembered as a ‘Wonderful Girl’ & ‘Full of Life’
Ciara Meyer was a student at Susquenita Middle School. Her uncle told ABC 27 News she was a “wonderful girl, full of life.”
Meyer’s aunt, Hope Cordas Rohde, wrote on Facebook, “We are so broken as she was just a little girl and we loved her so much. My heart hurts so very much. Such a sad world this is when an innocent child is shot and killed. May God give us peace.”
A neighbor, who declined to be named, told ABC 27 News, “Very kind, sweet kid,” she said. “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.”
3. The Family Was Being Evicted Because They Owed More Than $1,700 in Rent
The family was being evicted because Ciara Meyer’s parents, Donald and Sherry Meyer, owed $1,780.85 in back rent and costs, PennLive.com reports.
Court documents show the family owed $660 per month in rent, and was behind by $1,452.60.
The Meyer’s landlord filed a complaint on November 30, which was delivered on December 3, according to court records obtained by PennLive.com.
Tenants must be given 10 days to pay past due rent and charges before eviction in Pennsylvania, the news site reports.
4. Donald Meyer Faces Several Charges & Was Arraigned by Video on Tuesday
Donald Meyer was charged with aggravated assault, simple assault and recklessly endangering another person.
He was arraigned by video on Tuesday. He is expected to be released from the hospital later Tuesday and will then be moved to Perry County Prison, where he will be held without bail, police said. His next hearing is schedule for January 15.
An autopsy is expected to be conducted Tuesday on Ciara Meyer.
5. The Shooting Will Be Investigated by State Police & the District Attorney
The shooting by state constable Clark Steele will be investigated by state police and the district attorney’s office.
“The investigation is still ongoing. Everything is going to be reviewed. There will be an investigation in conjunction with state police at Newport,” District Attorney Andrew Bender told PennLive.com.
Bender was asked whether the shooting was an appropriate response by Steele.
“I think it’s premature to speak about anything with regard to what actions would have been appropriate. We are still looking into the matter, still investigating it,” Bender told reporters.