Girl, 9, dies after accidental shooting

Girl, 9, dies after accidental shooting
Shayla May Schonneker (Photo from facebook.com/InLovingMemoryOfShayla)

OREGON CITY, Ore. – A 9-year-old girl who was accidentally shot in the face by her mother's boyfriend died at the hospital Sunday night, police said.

The shooting happened at a home near 12th and Division streets in Oregon City just before 5 p.m.

Police said Shayla May Schonneker was in her back yard when she was shot from inside the house, and it appears to be an accident. Her mother's boyfriend, 32-year-old Joseph Wolters of Gladstone, was practicing holstering and unholstering a handgun when it fired. The bullet went through a wall and hit Schonneker, who was about 50 yards away from the house, according to police.

Police said Wolters had recently been hired for an armed security job with an armored transport company. He told police he was practicing drawing the gun in preparation for his new job.

Neighbor Cindy Gill said she heard the shot, and the screams that followed.

"He was trying to start CPR, but he was crying so hard and so hysterical," Gill said. "He was having trouble keeping it going. He would stop and say 'breathe baby,' and I said 'you can't stop. You have to keep going.'"

Schonneker was taken by LifeFlight helicopter to Oregon Health and Science University. She died when she arrived at the hospital.

"You'd figure they'd be safe when the kids are outside, but that wasn't the case. It went off," Gill said. "It's just the most heart-wrenching pain, and there's nothing you can do to stop their pain."

No charges have been filed against Wolters at this time. He is an Iraq War veteran and a current a member of the military reserve. He spent a year in Iraq as a tank driver, and was shot in the leg while helping a friend get to cover during an attack.

Wolters was arrested in 2007 on a U.S. Army Absent Without Leave warrant, but he was listed as a deserter in a paperwork mistake by the Army. He was released about six hours after his arrest.

Schonneker was a student at an elementary school in the Gladstone School District. Police have been in contact with school officials since Sunday night.

KATU's Erica Nochlin contributed to this story.