Fanta Bility, an 8-year-old girl killed by gunfire after a high school football game, was likely hit by police officers’ bullets as they returned fire against gunmen during a shootout on Aug. 27.
As attendees left the stadium of Academy Park High School in Delaware County, Pennsylvania, where Academy Park and Pennsbury High School were playing each other, gunfire erupted just before 9 p.m, according to NBC Philadelphia.
Local officials initially said it was a driveby shooting.
According to Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer, someone started shooting and some of those shots were directed towards three Sharon Hill officers who were monitoring the crowd as they left the game.
“In response to the gunfire, the police officers discharged their service weapons,” Stollsteimer said in a statement released Thursday, NBC reports. “Tragically, our investigation has now determined that 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.”
Fanta’s sister Mamasa was also injured in the shooting but is recovering at home.
Here is more from NBC Philadelphia:
Stollsteimer added that investigators have yet to arrest those believed to have fired the initial shots. Three people were initially detained and later released from custody. No charges have been filed.
“I am asking again for the community’s help in identifying all the individuals involved in the altercation and the gunfire on Coates Street that led to this tragedy. My staff and I grieve for the Bility family, who I met with again this morning, as well as the other victims,” Stollsteimer said. “My promise to them and to the Sharon Hill community is that we will continue this investigation for as long as it takes until every question is answered and justice is done.”
A local reporter at the game tweeted a photo of players for the visiting team, Pennsbury High School, running for the press box for cover. He later tweeted that coaches for both teams said all players were accounted for. Pennsbury is a high school in Fairless Hills, Bucks County.
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Fanta was just about to begin the third grade. She was at the game to support her older sister, Mamasa, a cheerleader, and her cousin, who was playing in the game between Academy Park and Pennsbury High School.
Fanta was one of six children. Her family is from a larger community of immigrants from Guinea.
“We are hurt, and we need justice,” Fanta’s Aunt Fatima told the Inquirer after Fanta’s funeral. “She didn’t deserve this. She was an innocent girl. She did nothing wrong, and she never hurt anyone.”