CINCINNATI – A woman was left to grieve Monday when her 11-year-old granddaughter was allegedly shot and killed by her father.
Deandre Kelley, of Sedamsville, was arrested Sunday on a charge of reckless homicide after police say he shot and killed 11-year-old Shanti Lanza at his Delhi Avenue home.
Hamilton County Court Judge Melissa Powers set a $500,000 bond Monday morning for Kelley, but what happened in court didn’t help Shanti’s grandmother, Anita, heal her broken heart.
She spoke out at a District 5 town hall meeting Monday night, and asked Police Chief Jeffrey Blackwell to put officers through additional training that would help in future situations similar to the tragedy to that took Shanti’s life.
“Sensitivity training would be a good idea,” Anita said, “tolerance training because we need you out there.”
Anita says she is a victim of domestic violence, and knows these incidents don’t have to happen.
“As I told my family, we have to find a blessing in what happened to her – speaking out letting people know who she was, letting people know who she could have been, and doing something to stop this from happening again,” she said.
In the courtroom Monday, prosecutors requested a high bond after reviewing what they said was Kelley’s extensive felony record in Kentucky, and a history of mental health issues. Attorneys feared the father was a danger to himself after the incident.
“He might drink a little bit but that was his child, that was his baby,” said Antwone Kelley, Deandre’s brother. “He didn’t mean to do this at all. He’s more heartbroken than anybody.”
Police said Deandre Kelley arrived home at 800 Delhi Ave. intoxicated after 2 a.m. Sunday. His girlfriend of 15 years, and Shanti’s mother, forced Kelley out of the house, where he fired four shots into the air.
One of those bullets ended up in a second-story bedroom of the house. Shanti was in that room. The bullet struck her in the chest.
Cincinnati dispatch received calls from neighbors at about 3 a.m.
“(Shanti) just was (lying) on the floor,” said a neighbor, who said Shanti’s older sister came to their house looking for help. “I’d seen blood on her face and thought maybe she was shot in the face until I seen the neighbor with her hands on the little girl’s chest trying to revive her. So all I did was comfort them and pray with them and holding her up trying to breathe up her nose and out of her mouth and not pass out.”
The neighbor wished to remain anonymous.
Shanti was taken to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center where she was pronounced dead.
Antwone Kelley said his brother left the scene without knowing what happened until he found out he was wanted. Antwone was one of the people who spoke with Deandre, convincing him to surrender to police.
“It was a bunch of crying. He didn’t mean to do it. What more can I say? He didn’t mean to do it,” Antwone said. “He’s more heartbroken than anybody. Accidents happen…”
Hamilton County Clerk of Court records show Deandre Kelley was arrested for a domestic disturbance involving Shanti’s mother in 2007. He was convicted on an assault charge involving two other people in 2003.
Vince Lanza, Shanti’s uncle, said Deandre and his sister had a troubled relationship, but loved each other and their daughter.
“It was one of those relationships that they can’t be together but they can’t be without each other,” he said.
A fund to help with funeral expenses for Shanti has been set up at local Fifth Third Bank branches under the name “Shanti Lanza Fund.”
On Monday, grief counselors were also on hand at Riverside Academy where Shanti was a fifth grader to help her classmates deal with their grief.
“She brought joy to so many at Riverside Academy and her smile will be greatly missed,” administrators with Riverside Academy said.
A candlelight vigil was also scheduled in remembrance of Shanti at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 14 at 800 Delhi Ave.
A grand jury is set to meet Jan. 22 to review evidence in Deandre Kelley’s case.
Sunday’s incident is part of a recent spate of homicides that follows a deadly 2013. Cincinnati saw a 42 percent increase in homicides compared to 2012, according to analysis of data by WCPO. Seventy-five homicides occurred in Cincinnati in 2013.
The death is the fourth since Cincinnati Police Chief Jeffrey Blackwell held a town hall where he outlined his plan to reduce violence in the city. With the child’s death, the city has matched last year’s number of homicides for the entire month of January.