HICKSVILLE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — The family of a young woman found shot dead in her boyfriend’s Tarrytown home was struggling Wednesday to cope with the loss.
As CBS 2’s Weijia Jiang reported, loved ones were speaking out for the first time about the death of Megan Bookstaver, the 23-year-old Mercy College student shot and killed in a townhouse occupied by her boyfriend, Eric Gaulin, 25, and another person.
At the Bookstaver family home in Hicksville, her brother, Lucas, commented briefly Wednesday.
“She was a great sister and I loved her,” Lucas Bookstaver said.
The incident happened just after 4 p.m. on Labor Day in a Tarrytown complex that overlooks the Tappan Zee Bridge, CBS 2’s Steve Langford reported. Bookstaver was pronounced dead at the scene.
“The victim was apparently in the company of two other persons in a fourth-floor bedroom examining firearms when one discharged. She was struck in the head,” Tarrytown Police Lt. William Herguth said Tuesday.
A witness said Gaulin was cleaning the rifle when it went off.
The weapon, a rifle, was one of several found at the scene, police said. Gaulin, a graduate of Elon University, spent part of Sunday at a gun range before returning to his parents’ home in his car packed with target shooting equipment, CBS 2’s Lou Young reported.
When asked if he thought the gunshot that killed his sister was an accident, Lucas Bookstaver replied, “I have no comment.”
A woman identified as Megan Bookstaver’s grandmother said she is convinced it was an accident.
“Both Megan and her boyfriend were very good with handling firearms. They knew safety. They were raised that way. I truly believe it was an accident and I feel very sorry for what their family is going through. I know they loved Megan and are going to miss her terribly,” the woman said.
No drugs were found, but a law enforcement source told Young the police officers arriving at the scene of the fatal shooting detected what they believe was evidence of recent marijuana use.
No toxicology tests were ordered on the people in the house and the homeowner, Robert Gaulin, advised his son Eric not to talk to police, Young reported.
Mindy Hartman lives a few doors down from where the shooting happened. She said she ran into Eric Gaulin and Bookstaver a short time earlier.
“I don’t see them that often and I saw her just before she was killed, so it was kind of weird,” Hartman said.
“I feel kind of upset that somebody would have guns in their house,” neighbor Lorraine Billig told Young.
Tarrytown police have called the shooting suspicious. A third person who was in the room has spoken to police, but as of Wednesday afternoon Eric Gaulin had not.
Sources familiar with the case suggested the young man could face charges of reckless manslaughter or criminally negligent homicide depending, perhaps, on the decision of a grand jury, Young reported.
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