Heber City girl’s shooting death prompts outpouring of support for grieving family

Heber shooting
A GoFundMe page has been established for 7-year-old Zaydanielys Rodriguez Irizarry, the Heber City child who was fatally wounded in an apparent accidental shooting the evening of Friday, July 9, 2021. Photo: GoFundMe

HEBER CITY, Utah, July 12, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) — On Saturday, the grieving family of Zaydanielys Rodriguez Irizarry, the 7-year-old who was struck and mortally wounded by a bullet while in her bedroom in Heber City, asked for donations of $10,000 to cover their daughter’s burial in their native Puerto Rico.

By Sunday, donors to the GoFundMe account had raised more than double the requested amount. And by Monday afternoon, donors have nearly doubled Sunday’s total with a new total of $39,790, nearly quadruple the original amount sought.

Zaydanielys was in her room at the Wasatch Commons Apartments, No. 202, on Friday when she was struck by a bullet deputies say came from an apartment, No. 207, in a nearby building of the same complex, according to information from the Wasatch County Sheriff’s Office.

Zaydanielys was rushed to Heber Valley Medical Center by her parents. She died at the hospital.

“Hello, my name is Danny,” the GoFundMe page says. “I’m Zai’s father. On July 9, a stray bullet entered my children’s room and hit my little girl, taking her life.

“We are doing this fundraising for anyone who can contribute a grain of sand to be able to move my daughter’s body to Puerto Rico and give her the eternal rest that my angel deserves.

“I will appreciate the help that everyone can give with all my heart.”

Arrests made

Arrested in connection with the case were:

Christopher Robert O’Connell, 34, who now stands charged on suspicion of:

  • Manslaughter, a second-degree felony
  • Possession of a dangerous weapon by a restricted person, a second-degree felony
  • Possession of a controlled substance, marijuana/spice, a class B misdemeanor
  • Carrying a dangerous weapon under he influence of alcohol/drugs, a class B misdemeanor
  • Intoxication, a class C misdemeanor

O’Connell is being held without bail at the Wasatch County Jail.

Christopher Robert O’Connell. Photo: Wasatch County

“As law enforcement arrived on the scene, we made contact with Christopher near his residence, he was obviously intoxicated, he was non-compliant, with slurred speech. I observed what appeared to be a firearm near his beltline and protruding from his T-shirt,” his probable cause statement says.

“As Christopher was placed in handcuffs he was searched. A handgun was located on his beltline, it was secured and seized for evidence.”

Detectives on the scene spoke to two women who were in apartment No. 207 with the three males.

“They stated Christopher had sexually assaulted them in apartment #207, where Trever lives. I was informed Christopher was grabbing one female’s buttocks and grinding on her… The women also stated they observed Christopher pull a firearm out and wave it around while intoxicated, they asked him to put it away. One witness stated, they were incredibly intoxicated.”

“During the interview, Christopher stated he had consumed alcohol along with prescription medication that evening. He advised he took four pills of Clonazepam and distributed the same prescription pills and the same quantity to Colin.

“During a search of residence #205 with an approved search warrant, investigators located a green leafy substance, I was advised it was marijuana. I was advised by detectives on the scene the marijuana and firearms were in the same room and within reach of each other.”

Officers then located a bullet hole “that had gone through the wall and bedroom of Colin, continued north through the residence and into the next apartment complex and into the
child,” the statement says.

Others charged

O’Connell is the only suspect directly charged in Zaydanielys’ death. The other two suspects were charged with unrelated crimes that occurred in the same time period, while the three men were together.

Colin David Howells, 37, was charged on suspicion of:

  • Sexual battery, a class A misdemeanor
  • Intoxication, a class C misdemeanor

Howells’ bail was set at $2,000. He paid it and was released.

“During the interview, Trever Pinter stated Colin Howells and Christopher O’Connell were knocking loudly on his door between 10-11 pm. Colin stated when they got home from work they began consuming alcoholic beverages and were intoxicated.

“Detectives on scene spoke to two women that were in the apartment with the three males they stated Christopher and Colin had sexually assaulted them in apartment #207 where Trever lives. I was informed Colin was grabbing one female’s buttocks and grinding on her… The women also stated they observed Christopher pull a firearm out and wave it around while intoxicated, they asked him to put it away.”

Howells also told officers “he had consumed alcohol along with prescription medication that evening,” his probable cause statement says.

Trever Joe Pinter, 21, was charged on suspicion of:

  • Obstruction of justice, a third-degree felony. His bail was set at $1,500. He paid it and was released.

Detectives say Pinter originally denied having seen O’Connell or Howells with a gun.

“Later in the interview, he disclosed he did observe Christopher waving the gun around and also observed them sexually assault the females,” Pinter’s probable cause statement says. “I am charging Trever with one count of 76-8-306 Obstruction of Justice F3 because he delayed and was deceptive regarding my questioning which prevented me from continuing the investigation.”

From left, Christopher Robert O’Connell, Colin David Howells, Trever Joe Pinter. Photos: Wasatch County

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