A 12-year-old Pennsylvania girl was in the wrong place—standing behind her father—at the wrong time Monday morning, and ended up dead. As Clarke Steele, a state constable, attempted to evict Donald Meyer and his family from an apartment in Penn Township, authorities say Meyer, 57, exchanged words with the uniformed constable before pointing a loaded rifle at Steele's chest. Steele then took out his own handgun and fired—but the bullet passed through Meyer's arm and hit his daughter, Ciara Meyer. Ciara, who was home from school sick that day, was pronounced dead at the scene, ABC 27 reports. A state police rep says Steele had been to the apartment "numerous times" regarding the eviction, and that Meyer knew 10am Monday was his deadline to be out.
"It was absolutely no surprise [the constable] was coming at this date and time," the rep says, per PennLive, adding that it did not appear that the family had taken steps to move out and that it was Steele's "lawful job" to remove them. "It's horrible, absolutely heartbreaking," says a neighbor, who calls Ciara a "very kind, sweet kid." A GoFundMe campaign set up to help Ciara's mom with funeral expenses notes, "This was a terrible ending to a horific [sic] series of events that could have been prevented." Proceeds will also fund a scholarship in Ciara's school district against domestic violence and mental illness. Donald Meyer has been charged with aggravated assault, simple assault, terroristic threats, and reckless endangerment; Steele, who is said to be "very distraught," has suspended his work until the investigation is over. (Read more Pennsylvania stories.)