Three years ago, Aubrey Peters was honored as a hero for her quick-thinking actions that helped save two children who fell through the ice into a frigid reservoir.
Today the pretty and popular 16-year-old with a talent for art and a propensity for helping others is dead, the victim of some idiot who thought it would be fun to play with guns.
Peters (pictured) was hanging out with friends Sunday night at the home of 20-year-old Jacob McDaniel in Noblesville, Ind., near Indianapolis, when the talk for some reason turned to the subject of firearms. McDaniel and two other men, DeJaun Williams and Skylar Gadd, went upstairs to look at guns that McDaniel had in the house.
In his bedroom, McDaniel showed them a shotgun and a handgun he kept under his bed. The young men went back downstairs, McDaniel carrying the handgun. According to his own account told to police and recounted in an an officer’s affidavit, McDaniel ejected the gun’s magazine, which made him think that the weapon was empty.
Of course, there was still a bullet in the chamber.
McDaniel then tried to persuade Aubrey to hold the gun, but she wanted no part of it. So he teasingly pointed it at her and pulled the trigger. He expected just a click. Instead, he shot Aubrey in the chest.
“What just happened?” she said as she felt the impact of the bullet.
According to Williams, McDaniel then concocted a story, that the gun had fallen off a kitchen table and fired on its own. But his horrified friends didn’t go along with his cover-up and in the end, neither did McDaniel.
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Police and firefighters showed up, but Aubrey died in a hospital later that night.
In 2010, the teenager spotted two sisters, ages seven and four, who had fallen through the ice and into Morse Lake, a reservoir. The then-seventh-grader calmly called 911 and also alerted her grandparents, who pulled the girls from the frigid water.
The Red Cross credited Aubrey, as well as her grandparents, with saving the little girls’ lives.
Her friends gathered at that same reservoir for an impromptu memorial to Aubrey last night.
"This should not have happened to her. She did not deserve to die,” said her boyfriend, Indiana University freshman Joe Hodson, at the vigil. “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."
Her death was the second fatality in two days from an accidental shooting in the Indianapolis area. On Saturday, a three-year-old toddler died after accidentally shooting himself in the head with a handgun that was left on a kitchen counter.
SOURCES: Hamilton County Superior Court, WISH-TV, Indianapolis Star, Associated Press