A 9-year-old girl died after being shot in the head in North Philadelphia on Wednesday morning when she and two other children were left unsupervised inside a house with two guns, according to police.
Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said at the scene that it was not immediately clear how the girl was shot. She said authorities received a call about the shooting around 11 a.m. from a 12-year-old who was also in the house, on the 2300 block of North Bouvier Street.
“We don’t know at this point how the child was shot, but we do know that there were three children in the house left unattended,” Outlaw said. “And we found two firearms also in the home.”
The girl was taken to Temple University Hospital in critical condition with a gunshot wound to the right side of the head, police said. She was pronounced dead at 1:50 p.m.
Outlaw did not say how, or if, the children were related, and said police had not been able to speak with the girl’s parents in the immediate aftermath of the shooting.
A detective at the scene, who asked not to be named because he was not authorized to speak to the media, said the two other children in the house, boys ages 12 and 5, had been taken to the Special Victims Unit for interviews, and said that “everything points to an accident” but that the investigation was ongoing.
“Until we talk to everybody, we don’t know,” he said.
Patrick Flood, who lives nearby and is a lifelong friend of the girl’s father, came to the block to comfort his friend “because he has to bury his daughter.” He said the 12-year-old boy was the girl’s brother, and the 5-year-old was their cousin.
Flood said the girl was nicknamed Butterfly and was “quiet, nice, peaceful, loving. All the characteristics of a little girl.”
Her family moved into the rental property about a month ago, a police source said at the scene. The block is composed of aging rowhouses without porches. Some are abandoned and dilapidated, and trash and clothing litter sidewalks and gutters.
A neighbor said drugs were a problem in the area and calls to city tip lines had yielded little police response.
“It’s sad,” said the man, who has lived in the area his entire life and said he knows the family. “A girl gets shot in the head and nobody was in there but kids.”
Relatives who live on the block or nearby declined to speak about the girl or her condition Wednesday.
“I have to find out about my little cousins,” a man near tears exclaimed, before walking away to speak to an officer in a car parked in front of the shooting scene.
The shooting came amid a violent start to 2021. According to police statistics, 114 people had been shot through Tuesday, including 10 children under age 18.
District Attorney Larry Krasner told reporters at the scene that the incident was “heartbreaking” and said the city had “too many guns, and they’re not secured safely when they’re out there.”
Flood, the friend of the girl’s father, said of the shooting: “As far as I know, the kids found a gun in the house and they was playing. Then, things went sideways.”
Across the street from the home where the girl was shot, Ricky Green stood on his front steps surveying the scene of police technicians going in and out of the crime scene.
“I remember seeing that little girl,” Green said. “She was a cute little girl. That’s sad.”
Next-door neighbor Rhonda Wilson, 53, who just moved in nine weeks ago, said her neighbors’ children did not come outside very much. The father was “always out in the street,” Wilson said while heading out to work around 3 p.m.
“I’m just surprised that they left them by themselves,” Wilson said. “These are your kids. I mean, what is so important that you would leave your kids in a house by themselves?”
Staff photographer Alejandro A. Alvarez contributed to this article.