A Pennsylvania state police corporal was arrested Tuesday on reckless endangerment charges in a firearms training accident that claimed the life of a state trooper.
Cpl. Richard Schroeter, 43, was conducting a training session Sept. 30 and pulled the trigger on his firearm while discussing the weapon's mechanism, prosecutors said. The gun discharged, killing 26-year-old Trooper David Kedra.
Prosecutors said they asked a grand jury to consider charges of homicide, involuntary manslaughter and reckless endangering. The panel found sufficient evidence that Schroeter, although a highly qualified firearms instructor, recklessly endangered those present, they said.
"Schroeter breached routine, yet critical, safety protocol by failing to visually and physically check to ensure his weapon was unloaded, failing to obtain confirmation from another that his firearm was not loaded, and failing to point his weapon away from the direction of everyone present (including Trooper Kedra)," Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman said in a statement explaining the five reckless endangerment counts.
Schroeter's attorney, Timothy Woodward, said his client was "wracked with remorse" but declined comment on the charges.
"This is an absolute tragedy," he said. "Right now, our thoughts and prayers are with the Kedra family for their loss."
Woodward also said his client had been a dedicated public servant during 20 years with the state police and 14 years as a volunteer firefighter.
Kedra, who joined state police in 2012 and was assigned to the Skippack barracks, was shot in the chest. More than 1,000 family members, friends and law enforcement officers from around the area lined the streets for his Oct. 6 funeral procession.
Kedra's sister, Christine Kedra, spoke with NBC10 Tuesday and said she was outraged by the decision to only charge Schroeter with reckless endangerment.
"He willfully chose not to check the chamber of his firearm," Christine Kedra said. "He then pointed his gun directly at my brother's chest and he deliberately pulled the trigger."
U.S. & World
Stories that affect your life across the U.S. and around the world.
The Kedra family is calling on the state to conduct an independent investigation.
"We are calling for an investigation into how District Attorney Risa Ferman could make so many mistakes throughout this investigation," Christine Kedra said.
Ferman said that while her heart breaks for the Kedra family, the Grand Jury found insufficient evidence for further charges and that it would be unethical to increase charges without further evidence.