PARK TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — The man who set off a homemade fireworks cannon that killed a woman in July was charged on Monday with manslaughter.
Anthony Meyer, 37, of Holland, admitted he had been smoking marijuana and drinking alcohol before igniting the so-called salute cannon at the neighborhood fireworks gathering on July 3, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.
Shrapnel from the explosion penetrated the heart of 41-year-old Jana Daniels, killing her. Nine others were injured, including the suspect.
According to the arrest warrant affidavit, Meyer admitted to Ottawa County sheriff’s deputies that he brought the homemade cannon to the party.
The Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department said the gathering on Main Street, a dead-end road near Lake Macatawa, drew up to 50 people.
Meyer admitted to packing the cannon with smokeless powder instead of the Pyrodex powder he normally used. Smokeless powder, according to the affidavit, creates “far greater pressure.”
He admitted he hadn’t researched the differences in the powders.
He told deputies he “did not follow general safety precautions when igniting the cannon, explaining that the cannon should have been further away from attendees at the party,” the affidavit states.
At least three homes and five parked vehicles were also hit by shrapnel.
The suspect, who works at an auto repair shop told the judge he has strong ties to the community.
“My family, my friends, my kids my job, they’re all here,” he told the judge.
Jana Daniels was the mother of a 9-year-old boy and had recently worked as a substitute teacher at Burton Elementary School in Grand Rapids. She had gone to the gathering with friends.
Some relatives of the victim watched the arraignment through a Zoom feed.
“It’s a sad, difficult day for so many families,” Daniels’ mother, Dee Lewis, wrote in a statement to News 8. “It’s been 10 weeks since Jana’s death. She is missed so much by her young son, Tyler, by her family and friends. Investigators have worked hard to determine what happened. The families will need to trust the justice system for the outcome. May God give all involved the strength and wisdom that’s needed to move through this very difficult process. This includes Anthony.”
If convicted, Meyer could face up to 15 years in prison. He was given a $25,000 personal recognizance bond and has been released from jail.