The incident took place on Saturday night, when Kaylin Gillis, 20, and three other people made a wrong turn in the small town of Hebron while looking for their friend’s house. They drove into the driveway of 65-year-old homeowner Kevin Monahan and were trying to turn their car around when Monahan pulled out a gun.
He fired two shots at the car from his porch, said Washington County Sheriff Jeffrey Murphy. One of the bullets hit Gillis.
The group of friends fled Monahan’s property in their vehicle and drove a couple of miles down the road to the neighbouring town of Salem and called 911. Murphy noted that the shooting took place in an area with limited cell phone service.
Emergency crews arrived and performed CPR on Gillis but they were unable to save her. The 20-year-old, who was a resident of Schuylerville, N.Y., was pronounced dead at the scene.
When officers arrived at Monahan’s house to investigate the shooting, he refused to come out, Murphy said. Authorities spoke with him through a 911 dispatcher and in person for about an hour before he was taken into custody, according to the sheriff.
Monahan has been charged with second-degree murder and is behind bars at Warren County jail. It’s unclear if bail has been set in his case.
Murphy said at a news conference Monday that Gillis was an “innocent young girl,” and that there was “no reason for Mr. Monahan to feel threatened.”
When asked about Monahan, Murphy said police believe he is a labourer who has lived at the property for many years.
It’s unclear how long Gillis and her friends were in Monahan’s driveway, but Murphy noted that police believe it was “a very short time,” and that the group was exiting the driveway when Monahan started shooting. The motive for the shooting remains unclear.
The shooting happened days after Ralph Yarl, a Black 16-year-old, was shot and wounded in Kansas City, Mo., after going to the wrong house to pick up his younger brothers. (The shooter has been charged with two felony counts of armed assault.)
A GoFundMe campaign to help Gillis’ family pay for funeral expenses has been set up with a goal of US$75,000. As of press time the campaign has raised over US$63,000.
The page notes that Gillis “just turned 20-years-old,” and that her death is a “tragic loss.”
“On behalf of the Gillis family, we would like to thank everyone who has offered their love and prayers as they embark on this incredibly difficult journey of grief and healing.”
— With files from The Associated Press