Three-year-old girl dies after father, police engage in gun battle

Police say a 3-year-old girl died after her father and police engaged in a gun battle in Maryland. Authorities said it was not known whether the girl was hit by officers or her father during the chase. (Reuters)
August 16

A 3-year-old girl who was a passenger in her father’s vehicle was shot Saturday and later died of her injuries after her father had a gun battle with Prince George’s police and other law enforcement officers and led them on a chase through the county.

The man, who had not been identified, was killed when at least five law enforcement officers fired on his car. Police had been pursuing him in connection with the shooting of the girl’s grandfather and great-grandmother.

Authorities said it was not known whether the girl was hit by officers or her father during the chase.

They added that they would not identify the man or his daughter until relatives were notified.

Police said the man shot the girl’s maternal grandfather and maternal great-grandmother at a home in Fort Washington, Md. They were taken to a hospital, where they were in serious condition Saturday evening.

The shootings occurred in the 4200 block of Farmer Road, an area that one resident described as a quiet street filled with mostly retirees.

But on Saturday, shortly before 1 p.m., that quiet was interrupted when police said the man fired at two people in the home.

A witness who saw the man flee the area in a Nissan Altima notified police about the shooting. Police were able to quickly pursue the gunman.

The man was speeding down Branch Avenue near Beech Road and at one point lost a wheel.

He fired at police and continued driving, authorities said.

As he drove toward Interstate 95, police said, he fired at them again.

He drove another half-mile and again began shooting at police, they said.

When he reached the 4600 block of Branch Avenue in Suitland, officers fired back and the man was fatally struck, police said.

William Alexander, a spokesman for Prince George’s County police, said it was unclear whether police knew that the girl was in the car when they fired at it.

Investigators said they think that five county officers and one trooper with Maryland State Police fired at the man’s vehicle.

Alexander said the investigators are looking into whether the shooter or the victims had a history of domestic disputes. He said it was unclear who had custody of the girl.

The mother of the girl was not at either scene, police said.

Van Dyke Jackson, a witness to the aftermath of the shootout, said he saw emergency workers take a girl from the scene about 20 minutes after the firefight.

“You could see the barrettes,” Jackson said. “I’m praying for that baby. That’s innocence.”

Alexander said many details of both shootings are under investigation.

Shirley Beamon, who has lived in the 4200 block of Farmer Place for four years, said that the shooting was unusual for her neighborhood.

“It’s quiet around here, especially during the daytime,” said Beamon, 64.

Alexander said it will take some time to determine how the events unfolded.

“It’s going to be a long while before we can definitely say who shot first,” Alexander said.

He added that no police officers were injured and that the officers who were a part of the exchange of gunfire will be placed on administrative leave, which is routine procedure.

Alexander said that Prince George’s police were aided by Marlow Heights and Maryland State Police to track down the gunman.

Branch Avenue was expected to remain closed for several hours into the night while police continued to investigate.

Saturday’s shooting was the second time in a week that a 3-year-old girl was killed in the county by a gun. Knijah Bibb was fatally shot last Sunday by a bullet meant for someone else. Police said the girl was visiting a house in Landover with her family when a fight over clothes broke out between Davon A. Wallace, 25, and a teen who lived in the house.

Wallace left but returned about 10 minutes later with a gun, which he fired at the second floor of the house from the yard, police said. Wallace was aiming for the teen, who was wearing Wallace’s clothes, but struck Knijah instead, authorities said.

Ileana Najarro contributed to this report.

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