A Philadelphia father who accidentally killed his his four-year-old daughter over the weekend was ‘carelessly and recklessly’ waving a gun around a small bedroom with seven children present when it went off, authorities said on Monday.
Maurice Phillips, 30, has been charged with third-degree murder, involuntary manslaughter, child endangerment and reckless endangerment and related counts in Saturday afternoon’s death of Tahirah Phillips.
Police investigating the shooting originally said that the youngster had been shot by her five-year-old sister, but after Phillips was arrested, he told officers that he had been playing with the gun and it had gone off accidentally.
Capt James Clark, of the Philadelphia police homicide division, said on Monday that the girl and her six siblings – who range in age from seven months to 13 years old – were in the bedroom of the Kensington home when Phillips came into the room.
He took his gun from its holster and started ‘carelessly and recklessly waving and pointing the gun around in the room.’
The gun went off, striking the girl in the back of her head, ‘killing her instantly’, Clark said.
‘We don’t believe that he intended that to happen but because of his grossly negligent acts, this is ultimately what happened,’ Clark said.
The other children became upset and began yelling, investigators said.
They said Phillips got off the bed where he was sitting and struck his five-year-old daughter ‘with a closed fist’ and then ‘wiped the blood from his hand onto her shirt’ in an attempt to shift blame. Police initially believed the girl’s sibling fired the weapon.
‘He went as far as to punish the five-year-old to show how much he felt that she did this,’ Clark said.
Authorities alleged that Phillips called his fiancee, and after she arrived, he changed his clothes and fled. Several hours later, he turned himself in to police.
After homicide investigators ‘broke down his story,’ Phillips confessed he had accidentally shot the girl, Clark said.
The girl lived in the home with Phillips and her mother Tera Riddick. Neighbors said she had five siblings, three sisters and two brothers.
Five of the seven children, including the victim and the daughter originally blamed, are Phillips’ biological children, Clark said.
Riddick was known for being a protective mother who never let her children play outside the home, which is in Philadelphia’s violent Kensington neighborhood.
Neighbor Louise Sawyer said she once asked Riddick why she never brought her kids out. The mother responded: ‘I’m not bringing these kids out here with all this trouble’.
Sawyer said the neighborhood, where drug needles can be seen on the street, had been plagued with shootings and drugs.
Source: Daily Mail