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A Pennsylvania police constable shot and killed a 12-year-old girl during a confrontation with her father that resulted after the officer tried to "enforce an eviction order," authorities said.
Police said that prior to the shooting on Monday, Donald Meyer, 57, opened the door to his home in Duncannon, north of Harrisburg, closed it on Constable Clarke Steele, and then reopened in and traded words with Steele before revealing a loaded .223 caliber rifle.
Meyer allegedly then "leveled" the firearm at Steele, pointing it at his chest, which is when the officer drew his gun and fired a single shot.
Ciara Meyer was standing behind her father when Steele's bullet passed through her father's arm and struck her. The girl died at the scene, according to authorities.
The whole incident took place "within seconds," police said.
Meyer "put the constable in a situation where he had to make a decision to use deadly force, and he did, and now we have this tragedy," said Trooper Rob Hicks of the Pennsylvania State Police.
Hicks noted that the family had received multiple eviction notices and were aware that the constable would be coming.
Donald Meyer was taken to hospital for treatment of a non-life threatening wound to the upper left arm. He was arraigned on multiple charges including aggravated assault and reckless endangerment.
The officer has voluntarily suspended himself until an investigation into the incident is complete, according to Bill Stoeffler, a spokesperson for the police union the Commonwealth Constables Association. He said that Steele "is heartsick and heartbroken over the outcome," calling it "every constable's absolute worst nightmare."
"This is a situation that happened very suddenly and very violently," Stoeffler added. "He was put in a position from which he couldn't retreat safely. He had no other option really than to do what he did and respond as he did."
Stoessler noted that constables are elected or appointed as independent officers that work separately from broader law enforcement agencies in the state, primarily for lower-level courts, according to the Guardian. Steele had worked as a constable in Perry and Dauphin counties over the past six years.
Ciara Meyer, who was a student at Susquenita Middle School, was reportedly ill and had stayed home the day of the shooting, ABC27 reported.
A neighbor described the girl as a "very kind, sweet kid."