The father of a 9-year-old Indiana girl was charged with multiple felonies Monday after an apparent lesson in firearm safety ended in his daughter’s shooting death, according to police.
Eric Scott Hummel was charged with reckless homicide, neglect of a dependent resulting in death, battery resulting in death to a person less than 14 years old, and neglect of a dependent, according to charging documents provided by the Hobart police department.
Olivia Hummel, of the 100 block of E. 10th Ave. in Hobart, Indiana, was struck in the head by a bullet at her home Saturday, police said. She was taken to Hobart Hospital, where she was pronounced dead at 5:25 p.m.
The first officer on the scene ran to the upstairs of the home and found Hummel kneeling next to Olivia; he said he had been performing chest compressions on the girl, the document states.
“She’s dead, she’s dead, I thought it was empty, you can kill,” Hummel told the officer, according to the probable cause affidavit.
Hobart’s Joan Martin Elementary School, where Olivia was a student, planned to be open on Monday so her classmates could make cards for her family.
“Our hearts are saddened and oh so heavy by the loss of Olivia,” school superintendent Dr. Peggy Buffington said in a statement. “She will always be a precious memory for those who knew her because she was adorable and filled with such joy.”
Olivia played with the Hobart Soccer Club, where her father is an assistant coach.
"He is a good man and loves his kids greatly," Tanya Meagher, of the club's board of directors, said about Olivia's father. "Our hearts are with the family."
According to the affidavit, Hummel was smoking a cigarette in his car outside the residence when additional officers arrived, and two boys were sitting on the front porch steps. Hummel looked as if he had been crying, with a “red ring” around his eyes, and trembling hands, the affidavit reads. He told a responding officer he felt “numb,” police said.
One of the boys told police he and his brother were cleaning their room when Hummel approached them with the unloaded gun and began saying things like “you should never mess with the gun,” the document says. Asked how he knew the gun wasn’t loaded, the boy told the officer “when he shoot it at me it just made a little pop sound,” the document says. The boy told the officer Hummel pointed the gun at him and pulled the trigger “probably like two times,” while explaining the children should never play with the gun, the affidavit says.
The boy told the officer as Hummel lectured the children about why they should never play with guns before saying “this is why,” and then fatally shooting Olivia, the document says.
At some point, Hummel loaded the gun and forgot when he was telling the children not to play with it, according to the affidavit.
“I was showing the boys the gun and told them not to ever play with it because it can kill someone, then she walked in the room and I pointed it at her and pulled the trigger, thinking it was empty,” Hummel told police, according to the affidavit.
Police said Hummel called Olivia’s mother to tell her what happened and said, “I shot her, I’m sorry.” The affidavit says the mother told police later at the hospital she had screamed and dropped the phone but then picked it back up to hear Hummel’s apology.
“You would think that people would realize that they shouldn’t have guns in the house, especially loaded guns, around kids,” neighbor Patricia Peterson said. “I’m very sad for the family, and I hope they get some peace.”
It wasn't immediately clear if he had an attorney.