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Donald Meyer Jr. ordered to court on charges he lied to get
Mon Nov 7, 2016 07:33
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Donald Meyer Jr. ordered to court on charges he lied to get weapons

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Donald Meyer Jr. arrives for a hearing at District Judge Gregory Johnson's office in Dauphin. Meyer, charged with homicide in shooting death of 12-year-old daughter, is now charged with lying on gun forms to obtain weapons despite a past mental health commitment

October 20, 2016 Sean Simmers | ssimmers@pennlive.com
Sean Simmers | ssimmers@pennlive.com
Barbara Miller | bmiller@pennlive.com
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October 20, 2016 at 3:34 PM, updated October 21, 2016 at 6:14 PM

Donald Meyer Jr., the Perry County man accused in his 12-year-old daughter's accidental shooting death, will face trial on charges he lied to obtain weapons despite a past mental health commitment.

Donald Meyer Jr. Arrives at Hearing on Weapons Charges
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Meyer, 58, is also charged with homicide in the Jan. 11 death of daughter Ciara Meyer at their Penn Township apartment.

He was bound over for court Thursday by District Judge Gregory Johnson on six counts each of lying to sale or transfer of firearms violations and unsworn falsification to authorities. He remains in Perry County prison without bail on the homicide charges.

Meyer is accused of pointing a rifle at a constable who came to evict the family. Constable Clark Steele fired in self-defense, authorities say, and the bullet went through Meyer's arm and struck Ciara in the chest.
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Meyer has maintained he is innocent. "Just remember - it was his bullet, not mine," he said after the hearing.

Ciara Meyer was killed when her father pointed a gun at a constable who had come to the door to assist with the family's eviction.

The constable fired at Meyer, and the bullet passed through Meyer's arm and hit the girl, who was standing behind her father.

Despite having an involuntary mental commitment Nov. 27, 2011, Meyer was able to obtain six firearms between Oct. 1, 2012 and May 7, 2015 after police said he lied on gun purchase forms that he never had a commitment.

Trooper Donald Chewning of Newport barracks testified that after several guns were seized from Meyer's home, and troopers learned of a possible mental health commitment in his past, they investigated how he obtained the weapons.

Documents from Dauphin County Crisis Intervention Center showed that Meyer, then living in Dauphin County, was committed Nov. 27, 2011 for inpatient therapy, Chewning said.

Meyer had been involuntarily committed after he was accused of threatening to kill himself and his family, Chewning said in court records.

Meyer answered "no" on both ATF and state police background check forms to obtain the weapons, Chewning said.

Meyer is accused of purchasing these firearms:

At Gander Mountain in Lower Paxton Township:

Sig Saur .22 and Bersa Thunder .38 automatic pistol Oct. 1, 2012.Sturm Ruger .22 revolver April 13, 2013.

At OD Tactical in Swatara Township:
IWI Tavor SAR .223 assault rifle Sept. 21, 2013.

At Trop Gun Shop in West Donegal Township:
Colt M4 carbine .223 assault rifle Sept. 27, 2012.

At Reeser's Gunsmithing and Gun Shop in Reed Township:

IWI Tavor SAR .223 rifle he had placed on consignment - pickup up May 7, 2015.
Pennsylvania counties are required to report mental health information to state police, who enter the information into the Pennsylvania Instant Check System.

Chewning said that usually forms are forwarded from mental health establishments to the county sheriff's office to state police.

Deanna Muller, Meyer's attorney from the Dauphin County public defender's office, asked why Meyer was able to purchase the weapons, with the mental health commitment. "So at some point this information didn't make it to PSP," she said.

"I'm not sure where the disconnect occurred, but you are correct," Chewning said.

In February, state police said they didn't have Meyer's medical information on record, said Trooper Adam Reed, state police spokesman.

Dauphin County officials declined to specifically comment on Meyer's case but said that, generally, protocols were followed.

Reed said Thursday that additional searches of paper records were performed, and never found the commitment data from Dauphin County. "It wasn't entered before because we didn't receive it," he said.

"However, it's since been entered. Since then, we have implemented some proactive measures to keep something similar from happening again.

We now provide each county with a summary of all records we receive from them every two weeks.

This allows the county to inventory and cross-check their records to ensure that our records are complete and accurate," Reed said.

The county currently submits the commitments into the database electronically via a web-based screen, Reed said.

At the time of Meyer's commitment, paper copies were still being submitted.

The electronic submission option came along as a result of improvements to our PICS system.

Amy Richards Harinath, Dauphin County spokeswoman, said, "Dauphin County Mental Health/Intellectual Disabilities complies with the law to report involuntary commitments to the PA State Police and to the Sheriff's Office. Due to confidentiality laws, however, we can't discuss specific cases."

UPDATE: Comments from Dauphin County were added to this story.

Amy Richards Harinath

How man charged in 12-year-old daughter's death cheated Pa.'s gun background check

State police said PICS did not have Donald Meyer's mental health information and Dauphin County officials deny having broken any mental health reporting protocols.

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