Aaliyah Norris: North Carolina girl shot dead while eating ice-cream by man released from prison hours earlier
Shaquille Marshon Francis allegedly shot at Aaliyah's vehicle and it was apparently a case of mistaken identity
FOREST CITY, NORTH CAROLINA: A young North Carolina girl was shot and killed as she was eating ice cream, allegedly by a man who had been released from jail just hours earlier.
The tragic incident came to light after officers from the Forest City Police Department responded to reports of a shooting at the intersection of Oak Street/Harmon Street at around 5 pm on Tuesday, June 23, according to a press release.
When they arrived at the scene, they found two people removing seven-year-old Aaliyah Norris from a car. She had been shot in the head as she was eating ice cream, reported People. She was rushed to an area hospital, where she was initially listed in critical condition but would later succumb to her wounds. Her death was confirmed by the Forest City Dunbar Elementary, where she was a student.
"The Forest City — Dunbar family is incredibly saddened at the loss of one of our students Aaliyah Norris," they wrote on Facebook alongside a photo of the young girl smiling in one of the classrooms. "Please keep her family and friends in your prayers. If your child is in need of support coping during this difficult time, feel free to reach out to the school."
The FCPD, too, confirmed her passing and asked for the public's help in identifying the suspect, who had reportedly fled the scene in a black SUV. They later announced that, with the help of tips from community members and other law enforcement agencies, they had arrested Shaquille Marshon Francis in connection to the shooting.
Forest City Police Chief Chris LeRoy revealed Francis, 26, had been released from jail just three hours before he allegedly shot Aaliyah. Arrest records showed he had been arrested earlier the same day for assault by pointing a gun.
While it is still unclear why Francis shot at the seven-year-old's vehicle, a family friend suggested it had been a case of mistaken identity.
"When the words 'they’re taking my grand baby off of life support' come out of your close friend's mouth, and you can hear the pain and devastation choking him up [sic]," family friend Bethany Mae wrote. "If there was anything in this world I could do to change this for you guys, I’d do it without a second thought."
"A case of mistaken identity has cost an innocent child her life... it has cost a mother her child, a grandfather his princess, a little girl and a little boy their sister... a father his daughter... Aunts and uncles their Niece... a case of mistaken identity has caused a war..." she continued. "A case of mistaken identity has robbed her of all of the things little girls dream of."
Following his arrest, Francis was initially charged with assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury with intent to kill, discharging a weapon into occupied property inflicting serious bodily injury, and discharging a firearm within the city limits.
After Aaliyah died from her injuries, authorities announced they had upgraded those charges to murder. He is currently being held at the Rutherford County Jail on a $10 million secure bond.
A GoFundMe page set up to raise funds for Aaliyah's medical treatment has since been updated to reflect that the money will go towards her funeral costs. It has raised over $7,000.