LONGMONT, Colo. -- An 18-year-old woman was accidentally shot and killed at a Longmont home Friday night after police say she jumped out of a closet to scare her friend.
Investigators said recent Niwot High School graduate Premila Lal's death has been characterized as "unintended and extremely tragic."
Officers said the Niwot track stand-out was taken to Longmont United Hospital for a gunshot wound at about 8:00 p.m., and was pronounced dead a short time later.
Her family says Lal was the victim of a freak accident at their former home on 2531 Cambridge Drive.
"I heard a girl screaming from inside the house. So, I looked out and I saw them coming out. There were three guys and a girl. And they were all running out of the house, screaming, 'Hurry, hurry. We`ve got to go,'" said neighbor Elaine Haddox.
Police won’t say much about what happened. But they have charged a family friend who pulled the trigger with charges unrelated to the killing. The four people involved, including the victim, were all relatives and or friends between the ages of 12 and 21.
"The 21-year-old let a juvenile male have possession of a handgun without the parent’s
permission. That is a felony crime in our state," said Longmont Police Cmdr. Jeff Satur.
The victim’s dad says that family friend, Nerrek Galley, 21, was at their old house with Premila’s 15-year-old brother, when Premila and a 12-year-old cousin arrived.
"They somehow entered the house. And my son and Nerrek didn't know it was them. And there was an accidental shooting. After she was shot, then Nerrek realized it was Premila," Praveen said.
Galley was slated to appear in Boulder County court Monday afternoon.
Family says Premila was a popular student, undeterred by challenges and celebrated even in death. The Niwot cross-country team ran a meet Saturday morning in Premila’s honor, marking her initials on their legs.
"She graduated with 3.87 GPA with changing three schools. So she was a go-getter. We’re going to miss her," said her dad.
Her classmates called her fast. Sadly, her life ended just as quickly.
"I was always there for my daughter. And she was always there for me. That's the hardest part I'm going to miss," said Premila’s mom, Angela Lal.
Galley, from Utah, has been charged with reckless endangerment, child abuse and a felony gun charge. Police are still investigating whether to charge him with killing Premila.
Police do not believe drugs, alcohol or gang activity were contributing factors in the accident.