Ryan Fantasia, 20, was attempting to assemble a gun when he accidentally shot and killed his 19-year-old girlfriend Hayley Pelock last Friday, police said.
Sgt. Tom Rogers explained, in detail, what police believe happened in Fantasia's upstairs bedroom in the first block of West 26th Street.
"What happened was, the victim just came back from school and went to visit her boyfriend [Fantasia]," Rogers said. "The boyfriend was on the bed allegedly trying to make and put together his gun that he had purchased. He was trying to be a gun guy, so to speak. As it was jamming on him he drew the slide back and it discharged. Unfortunately, his girlfriend was standing in the doorway, which was a couple of feet away, and it struck her in the abdomen area on the right side."
Fantasia's brother, John, then came upstairs and tried to administer CPR. After 911 was called, the police were told a different story than what had actually happened, Rogers added.
"The initial story was someone shot through the bedroom window, and that wasn't the case," Rogers said. "When we were able to get the boyfriend to the police station, his conscience just took over and he said, 'I have to tell the truth about what truly happened.'"
Ryan Fantasia also initially hid the gun before the police arrived, which is partially what led to his charges, Rogers added.
"Because the gun was hidden in the back yard and he lied at first to us, he did get charged with felony obstructing," Rogers explained. "There was no first-degree murder charge. The State's Attorney's office is ruling it as an accidental death."
Chicago Heights Police Chief Michael Camilli said he was amazed at how many people in the community knew Pelock personally and were affected by her death.
"That girl was really well-known and well-liked in the community," Camilli said. "She was related to one of our commanders, and a lot of people just thought she was great."
Rogers said the police department has yet to see any signs that the shooting was intentional.
"They were together for two years, from what we're understanding," Rogers said. "There was never any domestic issues that have been brought to our attention between them. When we did go to his house, we found gun cleaning kits and gun manuals. So his story was accurate in that he did want to be a gunsmith and learn about taking apart and putting together guns."
Pelock's family and friends have been sharing their memories of the 19-year-old Marian Catholic graduate on a memorial Facebook fan page, amassing more than 1,300 likes in just a few days.
Cook County Circuit Judge Darren Bowden set Fantasia's bail at $5,000 Sunday at the Markham courthouse. He is expected to appear in court April 4.