WASHINGTON COUNTY, Pa. - A 10-year-old girl was shot and killed during an attempted home invasion in Washington County Monday and so far, no arrests have been made.
Meanwhile, Thomas' mother is awaiting trial on charges she sold crack cocaine to an undercover informant. But police stopped short of saying that's why the apartment was targeted by gunfire that killed little Taniyah, according to the Associated Press.
The Associated Press reports that police say Thomas' mother, 36-year-old Shantye Brown, was arrested on the drug charges in January. Brown's live-in boyfriend, 26-year-old Robert Lester, also has drug-related convictions in 2011 and 2013.
The girl was killed in an apartment building on West Chestnut Street in the city of Washington. Washington County Coroner Tim Warco said the girl, Taniyah Thomas, was shot in the head about 3:50 a.m.
A growing memorial of candles, balloons and stuffed animals sits outside the apartment building and continues to grow.
“They took her life away. I don't understand it," said the girl’s grandfather, Sherman Brown.
“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.
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.
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 you,” said Brown.
No arrests have been made. Police believe the family may have been targeted. Investigators are also asking for the public's help in finding the gunman.