PENN TOWN, Pennsylvania - On January 11th, 2016, 12-year-old Ciara Meyer was shot to death on after a police constable serving her father eviction papers mistakenly shot her inside her Penn Town, Penn. home.
According to District Attorney Andrew Bender. it was Meyer's "extremely reckless actions" that indirectly led to his daughter's death.
"She was an angel," Alice Gehman, Ciara's maternal grandmother, said Wednesday night. "I thought I'd be able to spend a lot more time with her and watch her grow up and graduate, get married and everything, but that's all gone now."
Gehman got the phone call from Ciara's mother, Sherry, who had told her Donald Meyer had been shot. After Gehman arrived at the apartment complex, a woman on the scene told her what happened.
"She said, "She's gone, she's dead,'" Gehman said. "Well then, that's when I lost it. I lost it. I just said, "Oh my God, oh my God, this can't be, oh my God.' It was like a nightmare."
Many people have reached out to support Ciara's family.
Dozens of them attended a private vigil Wednesday night at a local church in Duncannon, and many more are supporting a GoFundMe account to cover funeral costs and to establish a scholarship in Ciara's honor.
"I appreciate everything they've done," Gehman said. "Under the circumstances, people have been very, very nice."
Gehman says no one on her side of the family has had any contact with Donald Meyer, who is still recovering from the gunshot wound at an area hospital, since the incident. She says they were worried that something like this could happen with Ciara's father.
"You've got to be careful who you open your doors for, for one thing," Gehman said. "It was my son-in-law who was the scary person. He was the scary character in this whole scenario."
Meyer faces charges of homicide, involuntary manslaughter, endangering the welfare of children and two counts of aggravated assault, including terrorist threats and reckless endangerment.
Meyer denies responsibility for his daughter's death.
Donald Meyer was charged with criminal homicide and involuntary manslaughter for the shooting death of his daughter Ciara.
"They're responsible for the murder and shooting of my daughter and me, and now it's a big cover up," Ciara's father said. "They're charging me with a felony for protecting my family?" He said as he was escorted out of the magistrate's office in an orange jump suit. He said he was aware that the constable was coming to the home to serve him eviction papers after his family received multiple notifications that the officer would be coming.
"When they heard the knock, they knew who it was," Pennsylvania State Trooper Robert Hicks old reporters.
Donald Meyer never pulled the trigger, but Perry County District Attorney Andrew Bender said his daughter, Ciara, was put in danger by her father's behavior.
Even so, police say that Meyer pulled a loaded rifle he had hidden from the unsuspecting constable after the two had a "brief exchange of words." according to cops.
"Constable Steele, who was in uniform, quickly removed his .40 caliber duty weapon from its holster and fired a single round," the police report said.
The bullet shattered a bone in Meyer's left arm and then struck Ciara in the chest, according to police.
Ciara died at the scene.
The little girl's extended family expressed sympathy, not blame, for the constable, who has to live with firing the fatal shot that killed Ciara.
"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," Ron Rohde, a relative through marriage said immediately following the girl's death.
A GoFundMe site named "Ciara's Fund" was created to help pay for funeral costs and to set up a scholarship fund in Ciara's memory.
Linda Bosley wrote on the memorial page:
Ciara's Fund Against Domestic Violence
Ciara was a loving vibrant 12 year old who's life was cut short far too early. She was in her home when a single gunshot ended her life. This was a terrible ending to a horific series of events that could have been prevented. Her family and friends will miss her. This campaign is to fund a scholarship in The Susquenitia School District against Domestic Violence and Mental Illness. The details of this scholarship are still being finalized. We intend that she be remembered forever and her death have some meaning. We hope to expand this and take Ciara's fund nationwide, fighting domestic violence and helping the victims.
Please help us acomplish this important goal. Her mother's family will be administering the funds and we hope to have an impact on these terrible problems in our community."