Maurice Phillips, a Philadelphia man who accidentally shot and killed his 4-year-old daughter, has been charged with third-degree murder, involuntary manslaughter, child endangerment, and reckless endangerment after he admitted to waving a gun around a small bedroom when it accidentally went off.
Phillips originally told police that his daughter Tahirah Phillips had been accidentally shot by her 5-year-old sister, but after Phillips was arrested he admitted that he had been playing with the gun when it went off accidentally. Captain James Clark said that all of Phillips's seven children, who range from ages 7 months to 13 years, were in the bedroom when the tragic incident took place.
Clark recounted the events that led up to the Tahirah's death, saying that Phillips took his gun from its holster and started "carelessly and recklessly waving and pointing the gun around in the room." The gun then went off, hitting young Tahirah in the back of the head, "killing her instantly." Clark added, "We don't believe that he intended that to happen but because of his grossly negligent acts, this is ultimately what happened."
Police said that after the gun fired, Phillips struck his 5-year-old daughter "with a closed fist" and "wiped the blood from his hands onto her shirt," in an attempt to shift the blame. Cpt. Clark said, "He went as far as to punish the 5-year-old to show how much he felt that she did this."
Phillips called his fiancée to tell her what happened, but when she arrived home, he fled the scene. He turned himself in to police hours later. Homicide investigators "broke down [Phillips's] story," and Phillips confessed that he had been waving the gun around when it went off.
Philadelphia Magazine reported that Phillips posted images of a black handgun with a box of hollow-point bullets, as well as an AR-15 to his Facebook page.
The family's home is in an area that local police refer to as the "gun grid," with 60 violent crimes being reported in the last month.
Family friend Crystal Dougherty remembered Tahirah, saying, "She was a sweet, loving girl." Adding, "She was full of life."
(Photo: Philadelphia Police Department via AP)