Detroit Officer's Gun Fires, Kills 7-Year-Old

6:50 AM, May 17, 2010   |    comments
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Detroit, MI (Detroit Free-Press) - A 7-year-old Detroit girl sleeping on a couch was shot and killed early Sunday after a Detroit police officer's weapon went off while he was searching for a homicide suspect, police said.

Assistant Police Chief Ralph Godbee said that Aiyana Jones was hit in the neck by a bullet and died at a hospital.

"This is any parent's worst nightmare. It also is any police officer's worst nightmare," Godbee said.

The officer involved is on paid leave pending the investigation, Godbee said.

The shooting occurred while officers were looking for a suspect in Friday's shooting death of a 17-year-old boy.

Officers threw a flash-bang device - which causes a bright flash and noise - into a home on the city's east side at about 12:45 a.m. and immediately entered, guns drawn, Godbee said.

"I heard boom! Detroit police! Pop! It happened so fast," said Krystal Sanders, 30, an aunt of the girl who said she was in the home at the time of the incident.

Aiyana's grandmother Mertilla Jones was in the front room of the house and tussled with the first officer when his gun discharged, hitting Aiyana, police said.

"I (saw) the light go out of her eyes," said Jones, 47, who had been questioned by police and released. "They killed my grandbaby."

Sunday's incident comes at a time when the city is reeling from two weeks of shooting deaths - that of the teenager and police officer Brian Huff, killed May 3.

The suspect sought in the teenager's death was arrested at the house.

Police did not release the suspect's name and charges had not been filed as of Sunday night.

"This is a tragedy of unspeakable magnitude to Aiyana's parents, family and all those who loved her," Godbee said. "We cannot undo what occurred this morning. All we can do is to pledge an open and full investigation, and to support Aiyana's family in whatever way."

"We have executed countless high-risk warrants where children have been present," Godbee said. "This was a perfect storm for tragedy."

Family members said Aiyana was outgoing, friendly and loved to sing and dance.

"Everybody loved her," her father, Charles Jones, said. "And she loved everybody."

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