A Philadelphia father has confessed to shooting his 4-year-old daughter in the face on April 16 just before 2:30 p.m.
Thirty-year-old Maurice "Stephon" Phillips is charged with third degree murder, involuntary manslaughter and recklessly endangering another person, according to authorities.
Paramedics found the little girl shot dead in a bedroom of Phillips' East Kensington home, reports Philly.com. Phillips told authorities he was holding his semiautomatic handgun and inadvertently shot his child. Cops initially thought the girl’s 5-year-old brother found the father's firearm and accidentally shot her, according to Philly.com.
News reports even framed the story as a tragic incident of a child killing another child. Meanwhile, police were launching a "desperate" search for Phillips, says homicide Capt. James Clark.
Authorities say Phillips ran from the scene after the shooting, but later surrendered to the police on April 16. He admitted that his son had nothing to do with the shooting and it was he who was “playing around with the gun.”
Phillips remained in police custody until April 17 as police recovered the .45 caliber semi-automatic handgun from the scene, say officials.
At the time, as many as seven children were inside the house, a police source told WCAU. Phillips and his girlfriend, Tera Riddick, were raising six children in the house on Mayfield Street.
Their home is situated across the street from a park that is often used as an outdoor drug market and in one of the city’s most dangerous neighborhoods.
Phillips and Riddick rarely let the children play outside for fear of violence on the streets, say neighbors.
The neighborhood is still reeling from news of the little girl’s death as violence permeates the area, according to WCAU. On March 17, neighbors sat on the couple’s front steps next to a small memorial on the sidewalk filled with candles and stuffed animals.
"She was full of life," said Crystal Dougherty, a family friend. "She was always willing to help. She was a great big sister to her little brother."
Neighbors say the family was quiet and never heard them argue.