2 teens charged after 17-year-old shot to death in backyard

Candace Chrzan, a Mount Zion High School student, was shot and killed while with friends in the backyard of a home, according to the Carroll County Sheriff's Office.
Candace Chrzan, a Mount Zion High School student, was shot and killed while with friends in the backyard of a home, according to the Carroll County Sheriff's Office.

Credit: Carroll County Sheriff's Office

Credit: Carroll County Sheriff's Office

Police say high school senior killed while friends were target practicing

It began as backyard target shooting. It ended with a 17-year-old girl dead and two other teenagers in custody in Carroll County, according to police.

Candace LeShae Chrzan was hanging out with three friends in a backyard Tuesday night, according to investigators. That’s when the Mount Zion High School senior was shot.

“At some point, Candace did have possession of a .22 pistol that they were using for target practice,” Ashley Hulsey, spokeswoman for the county, said Friday afternoon. “The gun jammed and she handed it to 17-year-old Jeremy Matthew Gray to clear the jam. As he was proceeding to do so, the gun did go off, it did strike Candace in the head and ultimately resulted in her death.”

Gray tried unsuccessfully to save his friend, Hulsey said. He has cooperated with investigators who have worked on the case this week. Hulsey said the gun had belonged to Gray’s late grandfather and the teens were shooting at plastic bottles around 8 p.m. Tuesday.

On Friday, Gray was arrested and charged with involuntary manslaughter, reckless conduct and possession of a firearm by a person under the age of 18, Hulsey said. A second teen was also arrested after threatening to kill Gray in a video posted on social media, investigators said. Samuel Blake Grier, 18, was charged with making terroristic threats and also booked into the Carroll jail.

ExplorePolice: 17-year-old Georgia girl shot to death while with friends in backyard

Carroll Sheriff Terry Langley was unable to attend a Friday afternoon news conference announcing the arrests. But Hulsey read a written statement from Langley.

“The incident should serve as a reminder that learning gun safety, securing guns within your possession, and always having awareness of the lives of others around you is something we should all live by,” the statement read. “Accidents happen and now two families’ lives have been changed forever and one is forever gone. In times like this, we cannot let Candace’s life be taken from us without learning from this tragedy.”

Candace played clarinet in the school’s concert and marching bands, according to her family. Her funeral will be held Wednesday at 2 p.m. on the Mount Zion High School football field, according to her online obituary.

“Candace also loved to sing and took pride in listening to and appreciating many different genres of music,” her obituary states. “In addition to being gifted in the arts, Candace was also athletic and enjoyed her time on the soccer field and learning martial arts.”

A GoFundMe page was created to assist the family with funeral costs.

“She left behind a broken-hearted community but so many precious memories,” the fundraiser organizer wrote. “As we all grieve, it’s time for Eagle Nation to rise up and support a family that has always supported us.”

In Other News