A Philadelphia father has confessed to accidentally shooting his four-year-old daughter on Saturday, a tragedy that was initially blamed on his five-year-old son. Maurice “Stephon” Phillips, a 30-year-old father of six, initially fled the scene before eventually heading to the police station to tell the truth about what happened.
The incident occurred around 2:30 pm, when Phillips was allegedly playing around with a loaded gun in the presence of his young daughter, investigators told CBS station KYW-TV. The gun suddenly fired and shot the little girl in the face, killing her instantly.
When police arrived on the scene, they originally thought that the victim’s brother had accidentally shot her. The theory triggered a search for their father, who was believed to be the owner of the gun that was involved in the incident.
Officers could not immediately locate Phillips, but the man turned himself on Saturday night and confessed to the crime. “After an investigation, (he) admitted to accidentally shooting the victim, and stated that the sibling had nothing to do with it,” Sgt. Eric Gripp said Sunday.
Charges in the case are currently pending, police have said. Neighbors have claimed that Phillips and his girlfriend, Tera Riddick, largely kept to themselves and were not known to have many arguments. Phillips would walk his children to school each day and would prohibit them from playing outside, fearing for their safety in a neighborhood with a notoriously high crime rate and heavy drug trafficking.
Neighbors created a small memorial to the victim on the sidewalk in front of the home where she died, leaving stuffed animals and candles in remembrance. “She was a great big sister to her little brother. She was very smart, at 4-years-old, she knows her alphabet, her colors,” neighbor Crystal Dougherty said. “She was just an outgoing little girl.”