CLEVELAND, Ohio — Wednesday a 9-year-old girl died from a gunshot to the head while sitting in a car near the scene of a shootout, witnesses said.
The girl, identified by the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner as Saniyah Nicholson of Maple Heights, was seated in her mother’s black Chrysler about 7:30 p.m. when the gunfire erupted, according to witnesses and Cleveland City Councilman Joe Jones.
A bullet hit Saniyah in the head and she died after being taken to University Hospital’s Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital, according to police.
The girl’s mother parked on the side of Lee Road, near Cloverside Avenue, and went into DNA Level Boxing Club to pick up her son, Yakov Charles, a boxing coach at the gym said.
“She was a good girl,” Charles said of the girl. “She was fun.”
Cleveland police briefed Jones at the scene. He said a group inside a car opened fire on a group standing outside, Jones said. The other group returned fire, Jones said.
Jones’ details were confirmed by four police sources, who were not authorized to publicly discuss the case.
Cleveland police have not said if officers made an arrest, but a man was handcuffed and placed in the back of a police cruiser and driven from the scene.
Dozens of police officers swarmed the neighborhood. Homicide detectives took measurements and interviewed witnesses. A crime scene officer put 20 markers on different pieces of evidence, including at least a dozen bullet casings. Acting Cleveland police homicide Commander Daniel Ross was at the scene.
Cleveland gang detectives — along with the gang unit’s commander, Gary Gingell — were also at the scene investigating.
The shooting happened in front of a strip of businesses on Lee Road that house two hair salons, two cellphone stores, and the gym. An abandoned church sits at the end of the block. At least 50 people stood outside the Lee-Harvard Plaza shopping center across the street, mostly in stunned silence.
“That young lady could have been my daughter,” Jones said. “It hurts deep inside my being and we just must do better.”