Stepdad Who Shot Teen is Decorated Army Officer
A man who told police he shot and killed his 14-year-old stepdaughter after mistaking her for a burglar is a 29-year-old Fort Carson officer with multiple deployments behind him and a Bronze Star for service.
Sources on Wednesday confirmed that 2nd Lt. Daniel R. Meade is at the center of the tragedy that has drawn headlines across the world.
A dispatch recording suggests that Meade opened fire on the girl about 6 a.m. Monday as she was crawling through a window of a home in the 4000 block of Ascendant Drive, off North Carefree Circle and Peterson Road.
She died of her wounds at a Colorado Springs hospital later that day.
The Alamosa Courier identified the victim as Kiana Rae O'Neil and reported that her funeral arrangements are pending with an Alamosa funeral home.
The girl previously attended school in Del Norte, the newspaper reported.
Police have yet to confirm the victim's name, citing the ongoing investigation.
Authorities say the 4th Judicial District Attorney's Office will review the case for possible charges.
Meade, of Missouri, has deployed to Iraq several times and is assigned to the 1st Brigade Combat Team, according to a biography provided by Fort Carson. A spokeswoman provided the information to media outlets including The Gazette even as she said the post could not confirm that Meade is the man involved.
A computer file containing the officer's biography, however, was titled "fatal dependant shooting."
Meade, a 10-year Army veteran, was an enlisted soldier who ascended to the rank of sergeant first-class before accepting his commission within the past year, Fort Carson spokeswoman Dani Johnson said. He is the recipient of a Bronze Star, an Army Commendation medal, and other laurels.
Though listed as a "health services officer," Meade also has a Ranger tab and a Special Forces tab, showing that he completed some of the Army's toughest and most exclusive combat training.
A Facebook memorial website depicted O'Neil as a pretty, popular freshman at Vista Ridge High School in Falcon School District 49.
A picture of the girl with her mother posted on the mother's Facebook page had more than 70 visitors expressing condolences, including one who wrote, "My heart is breaking for all of you."
While investigators kept mum this week, media websites that picked up the story exploded with reader-driven debates over access to guns and Colorado's so-called Make My Day law, which allows Colorado residents to use deadly force inside their homes if they believe an intruder is intent on harming them or committing a crime.
The law turns on whether the homeowner had the "reasonable belief" that a crime was imminent, and the answer to that question will likely determine whether charges will be filed in this case.
Earlier this year, a Colorado Springs apartment manager was cleared of wrongdoing after shooting two of three men who broke into the St. Vrain Apartments on east St. Vrain Street -- a decision that raised few eyebrows under the circumstances.
But the city is no stranger to controversial shootings in the name of self-defense.
In 2011, an El Paso County jury awarded $300,000 to the daughter of a burglar who was fatally shot in 2009 inside a used auto lot in the city's Knob Hill neighborhood.
The jury award came after a trial in which attorneys for the victim, Robert Johnson Fox, introduced evidence that a trio of auto shop employees anticipated that Fox would return to burglarize the business and lay in wait with military-style rifles for days before ambushing him as he scaled a fence. The Make My Day law applies only to residences, not businesses, but the defendants argued they feared for their lives because a weapon had been taken in a recent spate of burglaries.
In January, another jury will consider a lawsuit filed related to a 2010 shooting in which police say Chang Ho Yi chased a shoplifter out of his north Colorado Springs liquor store and shot him in the face after he jumped into a getaway car.
Yi declined to be interviewed by police, and later claimed that he shot the man after he was hit on the head while pursuing him out of the store.
Yi and all three men involved in the burglar's shooting escaped criminal charges after reviews by the office of District Attorney Dan May, who will ultimately be responsible for the decision in the latest case.
Gazette reporter Lisa Walton contributed to this report.