DUNCANNON, Pa. (WHTM) – A Perry County man has been charged with criminal homicide in the death of his 12-year-old daughter during an eviction confrontation with a constable.
Donald B. Meyer Jr. was awaiting arraignment Thursday on the homicide charge and an additional count of involuntary manslaughter, District Attorney Andrew Bender said.
Bender said Meyer’s “willful and deliberate reckless behavior” caused the death of 12-year-old Ciara Meyer. He said by pointing a loaded rifle at the constable, knowing his daughter was nearby, Meyer “consciously disregarded an unjustifiable and extremely high risk” that his actions could cause her death.
“We came to the conclusion to add the homicide charge because the investigation showed that but for Mr. Meyer’s reckless actions, Ciara would still be here,” Bender said. “He put her in a situation where his reckless actions triggered a chain of events that unfortunately led to this death.”
Bender added that Constable Clarke Steele has been cleared of any wrongdoing and will not face any charges. He said Steele fired in self-defense when Meyer placed him in “imminent and immediate fear for his life.”
Ciara Meyer was shot and killed Jan. 11 as Steele was trying to evict the family from the Pfautz Apartments in Penn Township.
State police said the girl was standing directly behind her father when Steele fired a single shot that went through Meyer’s left upper arm and struck his daughter in the chest.
Police said Meyer had opened the door for Steele, closed it, then opened it again. As Meyer exchanged words with the constable, he leveled a .223 caliber, semi-automatic rifle that had been slung and concealed along his body. With the rifle pointed directly at his chest, police said Steele, who was in uniform, fired his .40-caliber duty firearm.
Meyer, 57, was previously charged with aggravated assault, simple assault, terroristic threats, and reckless endangerment. He has been held in Perry County Prison without bail since his release from a hospital last week.
Authorities have additionally charged him with a second count of aggravated assault, endangering the welfare of a child, and a firearms violation. Bender said Meyer could not legally own a firearm because of a previous involuntary mental health commitment.
According to a search warrant affidavit, police removed five guns from the Meyer home after the shooting. Police said Meyer falsified applications when he purchased the guns.
The .233 caliber rifle had a 30-round magazine and was ready to fire, and police said Meyer had a Colt M4 and other loaded guns, plus a cache of loaded magazines prepared in the kitchen and dining area, including eight 30-round magazines on a kitchen chair just inside the front door.
Caira’s uncle told ABC 27 the family is happy to hear of the additional charges.
ABC 27’s Kendra Nichols is following developments. Look for updates online and on the air.