Authorities in Pennsylvania say the bullets that struck and killed an eight-year-old girl during a gunfire incident after a football game were likely discharged from the weapons of police officers.
According to NBC Philadelphia, the August 27 incident occurred while officers were returning fire after they were initially shot at by one or more unidentified gunmen. The deceased, identified as Fanta Bility, was fatally hit during the crossfire. The minor and her relatives were outside the Academy Park High School stadium in Delaware County when the drive-by shooting incident happened.
Bility had attended a football game between Academy Park and Pennsbury High School to support her older sister – a cheerleader – as well as her cousin. The minor’s sister also sustained injuries from the shooting, but she’s currently recovering at home, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
In a statement on Thursday, Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer said the shooting was initiated by a gunman who opened fire towards the location of the police officers. The three Sharon Hill officers had gone to the stadium to monitor the crowd who were leaving the game.
“In response to the gunfire, the police officers discharged their service weapons,” Stollsteimer said in the statement. “Tragically, our investigation has now determined that there is a high probability that the responsive gunfire of the Sharon Hill Police Officers struck four victims, including the shots that killed 8-year-old Fanta Bility and wounded her sister. The death of Fanta and the wounding of her sister and the other students are a heart-breaking tragedy for her family, her friends, and the entire Delaware County community.”
The district attorney added the suspects who started the shooting are yet to be arrested, NBC Philadelphia reported. Three people who were detained in connection with the shooting were released.
“I am asking again for the community’s help in identifying all the individuals involved in the altercation and the gunfire on Coates Street that led to this tragedy. My staff and I grieve for the Bility family, who I met with again this morning, as well as the other victims,” Stollsteimer said.
“My promise to them and to the Sharon Hill community is that we will continue this investigation for as long as it takes until every question is answered and justice is done.”
Bility belonged to a family that immigrated to the United States from Guinea. The deceased minor was set to start third grade at the Sharon Hill School on Monday.
“We are hurt, and we need justice,” an aunt of the minor told The Philadelphia Inquirer. “She didn’t deserve this. She was an innocent girl. She did nothing wrong, and she never hurt anyone.”