Two teenagers prosecutors say started a gunfight that preceded the death of 8-year-old Fanta Bility by police gunfire have been charged with the girl’s murder.
The Delaware County District Attorney’s Office announced in September that the bullets that struck and killed Bility after a Pennsylvania high school football game in August were fired by police who responded to the gunfight in the Philadelphia suburb of Sharon Hill.
Officials announced last week that Angelo “AJ” Ford, 16, and Hasein Strand, 18, the teens allegedly involved in the conflict that broke out a block away from the game just after it ended, are facing criminal charges. Each teen is charged with first-degree murder, aggravated-assault and gun charges, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
Ford was taken into custody on Nov. 10 before Strand also turned himself in.
“They were attempting to kill one another that night, and as a direct result a little girl is dead,” said First Assistant District Attorney Tanner Rouse.
Three Sharon Hill police officers were monitoring the Academy Park High School football game on Aug. 27 when they responded to nearby gunfire. All three officers told investigators they opened fire as the crowed exited the stadium.
The teens’ gunfight “precipitated the responsive discharge of weapons by police officers stationed near the entrance to the football stadium,” the district attorney’s office said. “This responsive gunfire by the officers wounded three bystanders and tragically killed Fanta Bility.”
Bility was struck in the back and pronounced dead at the scene. Of the five people shot that night, including Bility’s 13-year-old sister, officials say four were struck by police gunfire. Officers also fired at a vehicle they mistakenly believed was involved in the initial gunfight.
No one in the car was struck by gunfire, however, a 20-year-old female passenger was inured by shattered glass from the police gunfire, according to an attorney representing the victims.
The teens have also been charged in connection with others wounded after the game, and face five counts of attempted murder, and five counts of recklessly endangering another person.
Bility’s family filed a federal lawsuit against the Sharon Hill Borough and the officers involved in the shooting in October, seeking damages for the child’s death and the trauma it inflicted on the family.
“The Borough of Sharon Hill and its police chief were the moving force behind the actions of the officer(s) that led to the death of Fanta Bility,” the suit reads in part.
A grand jury will determine whether the officers will face criminal charges on Nov. 18. The officers were placed on administrative leave after the shooting and have not been named publicly.
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