A teenage girl known as a hero in her Indiana hometown for saving two children who fell through the ice at a local reservoir has died in what appears to be a tragic shooting accident.
The Indianapolis Starreports 16-year-old Aubrey Peters of Noblesville, 25 miles (40 km) northwest of Indianapolis, was hailed as a hero at a candlelight vigil at Morse Beach Park on Monday evening. It was there, at Morse Reservoir, that Peters saved the two children in 2010.
Peters died Sunday after a man shot her with a gun he thought was unloaded, according to court documents. The suspect, 20-year-old Jacob Travis McDaniel, was formally charged on Monday with reckless homicide and pointing a firearm in connection with Peters' death.
Court records state that Peters and two male friends were at McDaniel's home, where he was showing off a shotgun and a handgun. After Peters refused to hold the pistol, McDaniel allegedly ejected the magazine, aimed the gun at her and pulled the trigger. According to a witness, Peters then grabbed her chest and asked, "What just happened?"
One of the witnesses, Dajuan Williams, told investigators that McDaniel attempted to cover up the deadly incident.
"McDaniel then stated, 'The story is the gun fell off the table and went off,'" a court document states.
Police arrived shortly after Peters was shot. Efforts to revive her failed; she was pronounced dead at St. Vincent Indianapolis Hospital.
At Monday's vigil, Peters, who was a junior at Noblesville High School, was remembered by classmates and even students from other area schools as a positive, helpful friend.
"Aubrey gave her all into everything," her boyfriend, Indiana University freshman Joe Hodson, told the Star. "This should not have happened to her. She did not deserve to die... she is the kind of person meant to change the world, not die at the age of 16 due to some negligence with a handgun."
McDaniels is being held on $15,000 bond, with a pretrial hearing scheduled for February 21. If convicted, he faces as many as 11 years behind bars.
Peters' death was the second child shooting fatality in the Indianapolis area in as many days. A 3-year-old Indianapolis boy died Saturday night after he pulled a loaded gun from a kitchen counter and shot himself in the head.