NEOSHO — The fatal shooting of a 14-year-old girl at a holiday slumber party in Neosho was an accident, and no charges are expected, Newton County authorities said.
The shooting happened after four girls who were having a slumber party Monday found a .38-caliber gun on a piano in the home, Newton County Sheriff Ken Copeland said.
The homeowner, Scott Arkle, told investigators that he took the gun out of a safe to try out a holster he received for Christmas. He said he didn't expect the girls to go into the room where the gun was left.
But the girls found the gun, and a 14-year-old from Joplin took it from the holster, assuming it was unloaded. She pointed the gun in a joking manner at Megan Reppond of Joplin and the weapon went off, the sheriff said. Reppond died Tuesday morning at a hospital in Springfield.
Reppond and the other girls were friends from the Christian Life Center in Joplin. Copeland told The Joplin Globe on Tuesday that investigators believe the girl who pulled the trigger didn't mean to hurt Reppond, a freshman at Joplin High School. Juvenile authorities have been notified and are involved in the case, he said.
The shooting has been very sad for everyone involved, the sheriff said.
"And there's just nothing a guy can do to make it any better," he said.
Newton County prosecutor Jake Skouby said he doesn't anticipate filing any charge in the case.
"There is no indication the owner of the gun had given it to the girls or had been displaying it in a manner that would have made it an attractive item for them to play with," Skouby said. "It was left in a room where the girls were not expected to be."
Reppond was the daughter of Jeff and Ginger Reppond. Her cousin, Kay Zerkel, said her family doesn't blame anyone for the shooting.
"The family wants to make it clear that this was just an accident, a very unfortunate accident but just an accident," Zerkel said. "They hold no one responsible."