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Teens arrested after death of Mt. Zion High School senior released on bond

Candace Chrzan and a friend were target practicing when the weapon was accidentally fired, resulting in Chrzan's death, according to Carroll County authorities.

CARROLL COUNTY, Ga. — Two teens have been arrested following the death of 17-year-old Candace Chrzan, a Mt. Zion High School senior, who was killed Tuesday night in the area of Bowdon Junction Road in Mount Zion, Georgia.

In a news conference Friday afternoon, the Carroll County Sheriff's Office said Chrzan was shot and killed while target practicing with friends in the backyard of a home. Authorities described it as a "horrible accident."

"At some point, Candace did have possession of a .22 pistol that they were using for target practicing," said authorities. "The gun jammed."

They said Chrzan then handed the weapon to her friend to clear the jam. As the other teen, also a 17-year-old, was receiving it, the gun went off and struck Chrzan in the head, ultimately resulting in her death.

The accused shooter, who turned himself in and was later released on a $10,000 bond with special conditions after a court appearance on Saturday according to the Carroll County Sheriff's Office, is among the two people officials arrested Friday. He was charged with involuntary manslaughter, reckless conduct and possession of a firearm under the age of 18. Authorities said he was "visibly and physically shaken, and struck with grief."

Carroll County officials also arrested an 18-year-old who allegedly made public threats on Snapchat to kill the teen involved in the shooting accident that resulted in Chrzan's death. Investigators say this person did not know those involved in the original incident. He is facing a felony charge of making terroristic threats. He was released on an OR bond - that is, released on his “own recognizance," in which no bail money is paid to the court and no bond is posted, with the suspect promising, in writing, to appear in court for all upcoming proceedings.

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Authorities say the tragedy is a reminder of the importance of gun safety.

Friends and family of Candace Chrzan said she had a big heart, beautiful personality and inviting soul.

Chrzan loved playing the clarinet for the Mt. Zion High School marching band and, behind closed doors, loved to sing.

After her death Tuesday night, those who loved her said there's a big void in their lives.

"We ask that you keep the family of Chrzan in your thoughts and prayers as they are trying to process the loss of a bright young soul and please respect their privacy at this time," the sheriff's office said in a statement. 

One online fundraiser said that Chrzan, a member of the Mount Zion marching band, "always had a smile on her face and love in her heart."

The caption on one campaign summing up what she meant: "She left behind a broken hearted community but so many precious memories." 

"Everywhere Candace went, that smile with those dimples were on her face," said family friend Tiffany Cantrell.

Cantrell has known Candace for at least 10 years, both through marching band and personally. Cantrell's son was in Candace's same class since elementary school.

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