By the time paramedics found his 4-year-old shot dead in a back bedroom of his family's East Kensington house, Maurice "Stephon" Phillips was long gone.

Those who remained in the house where Phillips lived with his girlfriend and six children told police the girl's 5-year-old brother had been playing with a gun that accidentally went off, firing a single shot into the girl's face.

But the boy wasn't in the house, and neither was Phillips, whose Facebook cover photo features a semiautomatic pistol with a box of hollow-point bullets.

And while news reports and broadcasts detailed the tragic story - a child killing another - police were launching a "desperate" search for Phillips, homicide Capt. James Clark said.

On Saturday night, Phillips showed up at the 24th Police District, not far from his house on the 200 block of East Mayfield Street. His son, he finally confessed, had nothing to do with the shooting.

It was Phillips who had been "playing around with the gun," homicide Capt. James Clark said, and accidentally shot his daughter.

Charges in the case are pending, police said.

Phillips, 30, and his girlfriend Tera Riddick were raising six children in the house on Mayfield Street. The house sits across the street from a park that doubles as an open-air drug market, in one of the city's most crime-ridden neighborhoods.

On Sunday afternoon, neighbors sat on the couple's front stoop next to a small memorial on the sidewalk - candles and stuffed animals. The family was quiet, neighbors said. They never heard arguments. Phillips walked his children to school each morning, they said.

But he and Riddick rarely let the children outside to play - fearing, neighbors said, violence on the streets.

Staff Writer Chris Palmer contributed to this article.

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