Family and friends Wednesday mourned the loss of a 5-year-old Shady Cove girl who was killed June 27 after an assault rifle was fired into a second-floor apartment where she was visiting relatives.
Around two dozen people gathered for Alysa Bobbitt's memorial service at Memory Gardens Chapel in Medford.
"She was a vivacious and friendly little girl," her great-aunt Kristi Carson said.
Alysa was killed by a bullet fired from an assault rifle in the lower level of an apartment building in the 1000 block of Northwest C Street in Grants Pass. The bullet traveled into the upper level apartment where Alysa and her mother, Dani, were visiting family friends. A 44-year-old woman, who was not a family member, was also struck by a stray bullet and survived.
Police identified the shooter as Jon Andrew Meyer Jr., a 30-year-old transient. He was indicted Monday on charges of second-degree manslaughter, third-degree assault, unlawful possession of a machine gun and possession of methamphetamine, said Ryan Mulkins of the Josephine County District Attorney's Office. Meyer is scheduled to enter a plea on July 29, according to court records. He did not return a phone call Wednesday seeking comment.
Alysa, who would have been 6 years old this month, had just graduated from kindergarten at Shady Cove School and was going to start first grade in September.
Carson and another great-aunt, Angela Banks, said Alysa was the girly-girl of the extended family.
"Alysa loved to play, to dance, to listen to music, to color and to play dress-up," Carson said. "Anything girly-girl was what she was all about."
Banks said Alysa was a very friendly and open 5-year-old.
"Her mom would tell me that Alysa would say hi to everyone she saw at the grocery store," Banks said. "If someone didn't say hi back, Alysa would say, 'Momma, they're mean.' "
Alysa's mother is dealing with the loss day by day, Banks said.
"She is better than she was three days ago," Banks said. "This is going to be a lifelong struggle for her, though. It's just absolutely devastating."
Alysa's father, Chris, who lives in Texas, also is coping with his daughter's death, Carson said.
"I talked to him yesterday, and he is dealing with it as best as someone can in a situation like this," she said.
Banks said she hopes the shooting will raise awareness about how to properly handle a gun.
"Be aware. We're in a valley where almost all of us have guns," she said. "Know what you're doing with your gun. Know the right things to do and never have it loaded."
Banks said she believes such a senseless act could have been prevented if there were harsher penalties for possession of illegal firearms.
"If people who possess illegal firearms are looking at 15 to 20 years in prison, I think that is the only way to get them off the street," Banks said.
For both women, guns aren't the issue, though — people are.
"I believe that people kill people. Guns don't," Carson said. "It's the acts of the person behind the gun. It has nothing to do with the gun."
"Accidents happen, but this was an accident completely preventable because it was an illegal firearm," Banks said.
Reach Mail Tribune intern Amanda Barker at 541-776-4368 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.