2 Teenagers Arrested After Accidental Shooting of High School Senior During Target Practice, Police say
At one point during target practice, the gun jammed. Chrzan then handed the weapon to her friend Jeremy Matthew Gray to clear the jam. As Gray proceeded to do so, the gun went off and struck Candace in the head, which ultimately resulted in her death, Hu
Two teenagers have been arrested following the death of Georgia teen Candace Chrzan, the 17-year-old high school senior shot and killed when the teens were shooting plastic bottles at a friend's house last week, officials said.
Chrzan, who was set to graduate in May and was a senior at Mount Zion High School, was reportedly in the backyard at a friend's house with three friends on Tuesday night around 8 p.m. on Bowdon Junction Road when the tragedy took place, according to a statement by the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office.
Authorities with the sheriff’s office called it a “horrible accident.”
"At some point, Candace did have possession of a .22 pistol that they were using for target practicing," said Ashley Hulsey, a spokesperson with the sheriff's office. "The gun jammed.”
Hulsey said Chrzan then handed the weapon to her friend Jeremy Matthew Gray to clear the jam. As Gray proceeded to do so, the gun went off and struck Candace in the head, which ultimately resulted in her death, Hulsey said.
Hulsey told Inside Edition Digital that the two other people in the backyard were a female in her twenties and a male under 18, both of whom were witnesses.
When police arrived at the scene, Hulsey said Gray was visibly shaken and struck with grief. She said he did try to render aid but was unsuccessful.
Grey, who turned himself in, has been charged with involuntary manslaughter, reckless conduct, and possession of a fireman under the age of 18. He was granted a $10,000 conditional bond on Saturday. It is unknown if he has an attorney at this time, Hulsey said.
Police also arrested 18-year old Samuel Blake Grier, who identified himself as a close childhood friend of Chrzan. Grier allegedly made public threats towards Gray on Snapchat when news of the shooting broke. Grier is now facing a terroristic threat felony charge. Hulsey said he was granted an own-recognizance bond on Saturday.
“Two families were changed forever. It is absolutely tragic,” Hulsey told Inside Edition Digital. “If the gun rules were followed and if the teenagers were following gun safety we wouldn’t be having this conversation because negligence was the end result that ultimately caused Candace’s death.”
Chrzan's grandparents, who raised her, learned the harrowing news when family friend Tiffany Cantrell called to tell them what had happened. Cantrell told WXIA that Chrzan’s grandfather said that his granddaughter was trained in martial arts and gun safety, and said that he believed that there is “more” to the story, and the “gun jamming did not make sense,” WXIA-11Alive News reported.
Cantrall, who called the situation ”heartbreaking,” said it's going to be hard for both Chrzan’s grieving family and the young man who is now facing charges.
“I hope that everyone in some kind of way can find some forgiveness in their heart no matter what," Cantrell said.
Chrzan, who had reportedly just picked up her cap and gown, was getting ready to graduate high school. The school district released a statement, saying it was "deeply saddened about the loss of a promising student" and had grief counselors available for those who needed it, WSB reported.
Last week on the Facebook page of Mount Zion Eagle Bands, a group which Chrzan was a part of, a message was posted in memory of the promising teen. "Eagle Always An Eagle. Rest in Peace Candace Chrzan.”
"I have struggled with how to word a post and while I have tried multiple times this morning I am still coming up with few words for this tragedy," Scott Jones wrote in a March 31 post notifying the members. "The MZ Eagle Band program and MZ community suffered a terrible loss yesterday. A former student of mine and a current student of Mr. Jones' passed away last night. It is hard to believe that this has happened and it's something for which we can never be prepared.”
Chrzan was described by friends and loved ones as a person with a “big heart, beautiful personality and inviting soul,” who loved to play the clarinet for the Mt. Zion High School marching band.
Cantrell created a GoFundMe page to assist the family with funeral costs. She said in the post that Chzran's family did not have life insurance for Candace and asked for the support of others. As of Monday $11,018 of their $25,000 goal had been raised.
On Wednesday, Cantrell will be speaking at a memorial service that will be held on the Mount Zion High School football field.
"I don't think the family will ever realize what an impression this beautiful young lady made on this community and how bad we're all hurting," Cantrell told 11Alive.
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