A 20-year-old woman has been shot dead after she and her friends accidentally pulled into the wrong driveway in Upstate New York while they were looking for their friend’s house. The homeowner, a 65-year-old man, has been charged with murder.
The incident took place Saturday night in Hebron, a small town northeast of Albany. Kaylin Gillis and three others were driving around the rural area with little to no cell service when they mistakenly drove into the driveway of a residence belonging to Kevin Monahan, Washington County Sheriff Jeffrey J. Murphy said at a news conference Monday.
The friends “realized their mistake” quickly and began to back out of the driveway, Murphy said. But he said Monahan came out onto his porch and fired two shots — one of which hit Gillis. Police did not immediately say what type of weapon was used.
None of the people inside the car got out or tried to enter Monahan’s house before he shot at them, Murphy said. “There was no reason for Mr. Monahan to feel threatened,” he added.
“This is a very sad case of some young adults that 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. He added that Gillis was “an innocent young girl” and that he knew her family personally. “She was … taken way too young,” he said.
Following the shooting, Gillis’s friends drove about five miles south to the town of Salem, where they were able to call 911. Emergency responders attempted to save Gillis, but she was pronounced dead at the scene, police said.
The incident occurred just two days after 16-year-old Ralph Yarl was shot and injured in Kansas City, Mo., when he went to the wrong house to pick up his siblings. Andrew D. Lester, an 84-year-old White man, was charged with felony assault and armed criminal action.
There were some key differences in the two cases — Yarl is Black, and prosecutors said there was “a racial component” to his case, which has sparked protests. In the New York shooting, Gillis was White, as is Monahan.
Murphy said Monahan has been charged with second-degree murder and is being held in a local county jail pending a court hearing. He “was uncooperative” when police arrived at his home, Murphy said, adding that it took officers “more than an hour of talking back and forth through 911 and trying to talk to him in person on the scene” before he was taken into custody.
Monahan is now being held at the Warren County jail while he awaits his court appearance “in the near future,” Murphy said.
Monahan owns a contracting business and has lived in Washington County for more than 30 years, his lawyer, Kurt Mausert, said in an email. He added that Monahan had no previous penal law convictions.
“My preliminary view of this case is that it was a series of errors which resulted in a tragedy,” Mausert said. “It is too soon to say more than that.”
Gillis was from Schuylerville, N.Y., about 20 miles southwest of where she and her friends were located when they were shot at.
Both the Yarl and Gillis cases have sparked anguish and soul-searching on social media, as people noted that in both cases, the young victims were shot while making a mundane mistake — going to the wrong house.
“This country is sick; accidentally going to the wrong house should not be a death sentence,” wrote New York City-based comedian Julia Claire.
Monahan was arrested shortly after the shooting and charged the next day. It took about four days for charges to be filed against Lester, who police said was cooperating with the investigation. Kansas City police said they could not charge the suspect without a statement from Yarl, which they said took time to obtain because Yarl was in the hospital with severe injuries.
A fundraiser verified by GoFundMe and launched on behalf of Gillis’s family for funeral expenses and other costs had raised over $50,000 early Tuesday.