WASHINGTON, Pa. - Arrests have been made in the shooting death of a 10-year-old girl in Washington County.
Taniyah Thomas was shot and killed during a home invasion in Washington County Monday.
On Friday, Anthin Goehing, 28; Douglas Cochran, 18; Malik Thomas, 21; and Richard White, 18, were charged with homicide, conspiracy, robbery, burglary and theft.
The family knows some of the men well. One of them is a distant relative, which made for an emotional scene. At least 20 family members were there for the arrests.
The girl was killed in an apartment building on West Chestnut Street in the city of Washington.
Detectives didn’t say who they believe fired the shots. They said they believe robbery was the motive.
“They took her life away. I don't understand it," said the girl’s grandfather, Sherman Brown.
Thomas was a fourth-grader at Washington Park School and on the cheerleading team.
“I just took her last Wednesday to her cheerleading and she was supposed to go tomorrow to Pittsburgh for a competition. Now she can’t go,” said Brown.
“I’m sorry she passed away like that. We loved her. She was part of our cheer family,” said Paige Griffith.
“I love her a lot, and I really miss her. I wish she could come back. The world’s just so cruel,” said Thomas’ cousin, Lebron Pierce.
During a news conference, police said whoever fired the shots kicked in a lower-level door to get access to the building. They then went upstairs, where the shots were fired. Investigators said Thomas likely woke up scared when she heard gunshots and tried running to her mom’s room, where she was shot.
“You don’t shoot kids. You don’t mess with young kids. Why? They never did anything to you,” said Brown.
Thomas’ father, Curtis Thomas Jr., said, "I changed my life for my daughter. She was taken from me. I made a promise to her. The people who did this to her will pay, and I will dedicate my life so that my daughter's never forgotten.