Iowa Teen, 18, Is Fatally Shot at New Year’s Eve Party, and Police Arrest Suspect
“They stood out in the street and opened fire on the house,” Sioux City Police Department Sgt. Jeremy McClure tells PEOPLE
An arrest has been made in the fatal shooting of a teenage girl at a New Year’s Eve house party in Sioux City, Iowa.
Christopher Morales, 19, was arrested on Jan. 3 and charged with intimidation with a dangerous weapon and going armed with intent in connection to the Jan. 1 shooting that claimed the life of 18-year-old Mia Alexis-Marie Kritis.
According to KMEG, Mia was only three weeks shy of graduating early from North High School and had planned to become a nurse.
"I'm glad that other families have their child and children, because this is the worst feeling ever. It really is," Mia’s dad Christos Kritis told KMEG. "She had the most beautiful smile, so loving, caring. She cared for everybody. She really did."
Three other people, two juveniles and a 19-year-old, were also stuck by gunfire. They are recovering from their injuries.
Police say they are searching for additional shooters involved in the incident.
“We aren’t releasing how many yet until we can determine for sure,” Sioux City Police Department Sgt. Jeremy McClure tells PEOPLE.
Police allege Morales and the unidentified suspects had a late-night confrontation outside the Sioux City party house in the 2600 block of Walker St. before they opened fire.
McClure says the shooters used handguns and an assault-style rifle to shoot through the windows and walls of the house. At least 27 rounds were fired. Police believe there were between 20 to 25 people in the house at the time.
“They stood out in the street and opened fire on the house,” he says. “From what we can tell, they were firing into the house indiscriminately.”
Most people at the party were in their late teens and early 20s.
“This was ... in a residential area,” says McClure. “An area not known for a high crime rate. People were learning about [the party] through social media. Initial investigation indicates some of the people were from different parts of town and different schools.”
McClure says he doesn’t believe the shooting was gang-related or the shooters knew Kritis. “Based on our initial investigation it doesn’t appear to be motivated by any sort of gang activity. We are pursuing other leads to determine a motive.”
Police say that after they arrested Morales, they found him in possession of a firearm.
“The detectives came in and they did initial tests on the firearm and were able to connect it to the party," McClure says. "We are waiting on more lab results. Additional charges will be pending the results of the forensic examinations.”
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McClure says investigators still want to interview partygoers because many fled before the police arrived. He says the department has no interest in charging anyone for being at an underage party. The department’s priority is to catch the shooters.
“It is definitely a tragic incident,” adds McClure. “Completely senseless and shows a wanton disregard for human life.”
Witnesses can contact police by calling (712) 279-6960 or they can call the Crime Stoppers Tip Line at (712) 258 - TIPS.