A man has been charged with second-degree murder after he shot and killed a 20-year-old woman after the driver of the car she was riding in mistakenly turned into the wrong driveway, authorities said. Kaylin Gillis was with three of her friends in the vehicle when they made a wrong turn into a driveway while searching for a friend's house in the town of Hebron.
Kevin Monahan, the owner of the house the group unintentionally parked in, is accused of firing two bullets at the car from his terrace as the driver was leaving, the Washington County Sheriff's Office said. Gillis was struck by one of the bullets and died.
Murder in Fit of Rage
Sheriff Jeffrey Murphy of Washington County in the east of New York state said on Monday that the group mistakenly drove up to a house about 19 miles north-east of Gillis's residence in Schuylerville.
As they tried to turn the car around, local resident Monahan came out of his home and fired two shots, one of which hit Gillis. According to Murphy, none of the group members attempted to leave the car or break into Monahan's house.
"This is a very sad case of some young adults who were looking for a friend's house and ended up at this man's house who decided to come out with a firearm and discharge it," Murphy said.
"She was an innocent young girl who was out with friends looking for another friend's house," Murphy said at a news conference. "There was no reason for Mr Monahan to feel threatened."
After the shots were fired around 10 pm, Gillis and the friends drive away in order to ask for help in a nearby town because there was no reliable cellphone reception in the area, according to Murphy.
Gillis had already died when first responders arrived at the car.
"She was just so young and she still had so much to live for. She had a very loving boyfriend, and she was so in love with him," Gillis' cousin Haleigh Eustis, 20, told The New York Post on Monday night.
Innocent Girl Killed
During a Monday press conference, Sheriff Jeffrey Murphy announced that 65-year-old Monahan had been arrested and was facing second-degree murder charges. Monahan was "uncooperative with the investigation and refused to exit his residence to speak with police", the sheriff's office said in a news release.
"I can't imagine how he feels right now. I know they were attached at the hip. And she had a very loving family. It's just a loving, big family, and she had such a strong backbone from being a part of this family. And I feel so much anger that she can't have that anymore," Eustissaid.
According to Murphy, there was no interaction between the car's passengers and the homeowner.
Murphy said that the group of friends never got out of the vehicle. It is unclear how long the car was in the driveway, although Murphy said it was a "very short time."
The incident occurred in a fairly remote location with many dirt roads where it is "easy to get lost," Murphy said.
Monahan is being held in neighboring Warren County before he appears in a Washington County court at a later date.
According to the Times Union's citation of open records, Gillis' father works as a corrections officer at the Washington County jail.
The newspaper reported that the police don't think alcohol or mental illness played a role in the shooting. Gillis's friends and her grieving family were still in shock at the fatal shooting with a gun.
Gillis was "really a gentle soul," said Chuchay Stark, 48, who has known her since she was a little girl.
"She was one of those kids who make you say, 'I wish she was my kid.' She was very attuned to people's needs and feelings," Stark explained. "But there was no lack of confidence. She knew what she wanted. She knew her voice, and wasn't afraid to be creative."
Murphy said he knew the victim's family.
"I know for a fact that she comes from a good family, a very good family," Murphy said. "And I know them personally and she was a young girl that was taken way too young."
A GoFundMe page was created to help Gillis's family "with funeral and other expenses".
The news comes after a Black teenager from Missouri was accidentally shot twice by a homeowner after knocking on his door. The parents of Ralph Yarl, 16, claim he called the wrong house and was left for dead when he went to pick up his younger twin brothers after a play date in Kansas City.