The district attorney says police were firing in response to someone who fired at them as a football game they were monitoring came to a close.
The bullets that took the life of 8-year-old Fanta Bility and wounded her sister outside of a high school football game last month in a Philadelphia suburb were potentially the result of police officers responding to gunfire in their direction, People reports.
Residents were shocked by the incident that occurred in the quiet and tight-knit community of Sharon Hill, Pennsylvania on Aug. 28. The suburb reports much less gun violence than in the city of Philadelphia.
According to CBS Philly, three officers are likely responsible. The Delaware County District Attorney’s Office released a statement on Friday that announced their findings.
The statement reads in part:
“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 heartbreaking tragedy for her family, her friends, and the entire Delaware County community.”
As a result, the officers have been placed on administrative leave, but none have been charged in Bility’s death.
“The person who was involved in firing those shots and setting this off could face second-degree murder charges,” Bruce Castor, the Bility family lawyer, told WPVI-TV.
The shooting happened around 9 p.m., just moments after Academy Park High School defeated Pennsbury High School, when it appears a person or persons shot into the crowd leaving the football game. Video footage from the chaos of the gunshots that surfaced online showed football players still on the field ducking for cover.
Per the DA’s office, the shooting began as someone began firing “in the direction of three Sharon Hill Police Officers” who were there “monitoring the crowd” as attendees exited.
Fanta Bility (Bility family)
The initial shot is said to have struck a civilian, with officers firing in response.
The 8-year-old’s family spoke with The Philadelphia Inquirer two days before the DA’s admission about the bubbly child, noting that she was “sweet, loving, funny” and had a bright smile.
“We are hurt, and we need justice,” Fanta’s aunt, Fatima, told the paper. “She didn’t deserve this. She was an innocent girl. She did nothing wrong, and she never hurt anyone.”
Saddiq Muhammad, a cousin, says he initially learned of the shooting from television news reports. It wasn’t until the following morning that he discovered the victim was Bility.
“Waking up in the morning, learning that it was a family member, it took me off guard,” he said. “My family is still devastated, my family is still hurting. She was a beautiful little girl.”
Another cousin, Mayandia Bility, also finds the violence senseless.
“We want to make the community a better place, so this doesn’t happen again,” she said. “We just feel devastated, but we’re thankful that this wasn’t even more of a tragedy.”
While the investigation is ongoing, police are asking for help leading them to the person who fired the first shots.
Anyone with information about the shooter or shooters is asked to call (610) 579-0429.
The Bility family is raising money via a GoFundMe to help with expenses.
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