Carroll County investigators have arrested a 17-year-old and charged him with involuntary manslaughter in the March 30 accidental shooting death of a Mount Zion High School student.
In a separate matter, deputies have also charged an 18-year-old man for making physical threats against the alleged shooter.
Jeremy Matthew Gray was charged with involuntary manslaughter, reckless conduct and possession of a firearm by someone under the age of 18 in connection with the death of Candace Chrzan, a student at MZHS, where she was a member of the marching band.
In a news conference held April 2, Ashley Hulsey, a county spokesperson, said the shooting, which took place at a Mount Zion residence, occurred when a weapon accidentally fired.
Chrzan and three friends, including Gray, were in the backyard of the residence shooting at targets with a .22-caliber pistol that had belonged to Gray’s late grandfather. At some point, Hulsey said, Chrzan had possession of the weapon but it jammed when she tried to fire it.
She handed the weapon over to Gray to clear the jam, but as he worked with the weapon, it fired. The projectile struck the 17-year-old girl in the head.
Hulsey said that when law officers arrived at the scene, they found Gray “visibly upset and distraught” over what had happened. She said that after the shooting, Gray attempted to render aid to the young woman, which was unsuccessful.
The spokesperson said that Gray and Chrzan were friends and at some point had gone to school with one another.
While they were still investigating the case, deputies were contacted by a citizen concerned about a posting they had seen on Snapchat.
Hulsey said that Samuel Blake Grier, 18, of Bowdon, was allegedly seen in the video threatening Gray while displaying a gun on camera. Deputies said that after Grier was identified, deputies went to his home and charged him with felony terroristic threats and acts.
Grier has said that he is a cousin of Chrzan, but investigators have not confirmed that fact.
Hulsey said that sheriff’s deputies had investigated the case thoroughly.
“What we do not need is someone who wants to take matters into their own hands and be the result of another senseless death due to gun violence,” Hulsey said. “We will not tolerate vigilante justice, or the threat to harm others.”
Authorities confiscated a weapon from Grier, along with his cellphone, and both are considered evidence in their case.
The death of the young student produced an outpouring of grief on social media. Two friends of the girl’s family set up separate GoFundMe accounts to help meet the family’s expenses.
One account organized by Tiffany Cantrell noted that Chrzan left behind “a broken-hearted community but so many precious memories.”
“As we all grieve, it’s time for Eagle Nation to rise up and support a family that has always supported us,” Cantrell said on the GoFundMe account. “The family does not have life insurance for Candace so at this time we ask for any donations.”
Another donations account was sent up by Suzie Williams, who said Chrzan “always had a smile on her face and love in her heart.”
During Friday’s press conference, Hulsey read a statement by Carroll County Sheriff Terry Langley, who thanked the law officers with his department and Mount Zion Police, who first responded to the shooting.
“This incident should serve as a reminder that learning gun safety, securing guns within your possession, and always having awareness of the lives of others around you is something we should all live by,” Hulsey said. “Accidents happen, and now two families’ lives have been changed forever and one life is gone. In times like this, we have to not let Candace’s life being taken keep us from learning from this tragedy.”