Utah police are investigating the death of a 17-year-old girl who was found shot to death at a house party Saturday night.
Authorities initially believed Kaylissa O’Leary had died in an accident after kids at the party were reportedly playing with a gun, but later said the death is being considered “suspicious.”
“There was a gun at that party. We don’t know exactly what happened from then,” Sgt. Melody Gray of the Unified Police Department said, according to KSTU. “Was it indeed an accident? Was it intentional? We don’t know at this point, and we’re hoping to find that out.”
A 911 call was placed to authorities around 10:20 p.m. Saturday by a caller who said O’Leary had shot herself.
But by the time police arrived, many of the partygoers had fled the scene. Authorities aren’t sure how many people were at the party at the time of the shooting, but said the decision made by some to flee the scene is one reason the death is now being considered suspicious.
“Some of the reasons behind that is that the partygoers fled the scene, so we haven’t been able to talk to all the people who were there,” Gray said, according to The Deseret News.
The teen’s car, a blue 2010 Honda Civic she'd reportedly driven to the party, was also missing from the house. It wasn’t discovered by authorities until Monday, though police declined to release any details about how or where the vehicle was located, KSL reports.
Police are now hoping to track down people who were at the party to try to piece together what may have happened to the teen, who was a senior at Copper Hills High School.
They also hope to find out who owned the gun that killed O’Leery.
Gray said on Monday that she didn’t know whether the weapon had been recovered yet.
While police continue to investigate the death, O’Leery’s friends are remembering the teen as a “happy person” who always had a “glow” to her.
“It doesn’t feel like there’s closure when there’s just such an open door to it,” classmate Ethan Peery told KSTU. “Nobody feels like there’s really an end to the story, and that’s what’s most difficult.”
Shane Lyon, who taught O’Leary for two years, recalled the teen’s frequent exuberant greetings.
“I would describe Kaylissa definitely as outgoing, as fun,” he said. “She would constantly come to class greeting me, ‘Hello Mr. Lyon!’ Full of energy. Definitely had a smile for me every time.”
The Jordan School District has brought counselors in to help the students and staff at the high school grieve the loss of their classmate.
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