Florida girl, 4, shot dead in car while suspect targets her mom from another car
Sunni Bell was shot dead while riding a car with her mother in Tampa Bay in what could be a case of 'mistaken identity'
TAMPA BAY, FLORIDA: A four-year-old girl was shot and killed while riding in a car in Tampa Bay on Sunday, in what the mayor believes was a case of mistaken identity, news outlets reported on Monday, August 23. Police are in pursuit of the shooter.
In a similar incident, Justin Wallace, a 10-year-old boy was killed and his uncle was wounded when an assailant opened fire on a home in New York City back in June. A drive-by shooting left a nine-year-old Georgia boy, Nigel Brown dead on August 8.
The nation has also seen a rise in gun crimes in recent months. According to reports, 687 people were injured or killed in police-reported gun violence through June 6, which is the most since 2000. Early this month, Governor Andrew Cuomo issued a first-in-the-nation executive order declaring gun violence a 'disaster emergency'.
Assistant Police Chief Ruben Delgado stated at a press conference on the afternoon of Monday, August 23 that Sunni Bell's mother was driving on Hillsborough Avenue near 43rd Street when another automobile drew up alongside them and began shooting.
HEARTBREAKING UPDATE: 8 On Your Side has learned 4-year-old Sunni Bell was shot and killed while riding in a car in Tampa on Sunday. A vigil and rally will be held for her tonight. More information here >> https://t.co/F8EPHt5I5K pic.twitter.com/629u0H9Kj7— WFLA NEWS (@WFLA) August 23, 2021
Bell's mother crashed her silver Infiniti sedan into a pole as a result of the dispute. When she turned around, she discovered her child in the backseat, dead. The shooting was first characterized as a "non-random" incident, but Tampa Mayor Jane Castor has since stated that authorities now believe it was a case of mistaken identity, the Daily Mail reported. Fox 13 in Tampa was the first to identify the girl. The girl's mother's identity remains unknown at this time.
She was brought to the hospital but could not be rescued, according to a news statement. "My baby’s full of life. She was full of life," Bell's grandmother, Drial, told Bay News. "It's a baby! A four-year-old baby." On Monday, residents of the community came out to offer prayers and condolences as family members released balloons. "We’re not here for charity or anything, none of that," Drial Bell said. "I just want justice — peace and for my family to have a peace of mind because it’s not fair. It’s not fair at all."
Police have not named any suspects or reasons, but they are offering a prize of $9,500 to anyone who can help, the Mail reported. "We know people saw what happened," Delgado said. "We know people were in the area when it happened," he added.
"I would say man up turn yourself in," family friend and activist Lashaun Tims said to Fox, addressing the shooter. "It's better for you because any killer needs help, and I say killer because we're talking about a baby. Take the message to heart. If you know something, you've got to say something."
"It is early on in the investigation. We are looking at all options," said Delgado to Fox. "When you look at who was in the car, one of the questions is is it mistaken identity or is there something further we need to look into?"
After the accident, police closed the street for many hours to investigate the area, and dozens of evidence markers could be seen on the asphalt. On the ground, bullet casings could be spotted. Sunni's mother had been contacted by Tampa Mayor Jane Castor, but no further information about the woman's condition was provided.