An 11-year-old girl was killed by a stray bullet as she played with family members at her grandmother’s house in Detroit on Saturday.
Police have two people in custody – an adult and a minor – in connection to the incident, but have not commented on their identities to avoid compromising the investigation, they said.
Saniyah Pugh was lying on the ground with four other kids when a bullet ripped through the house from outside and struck her in the back.
She died before emergency services responded.
Members of the community joined the girl’s grandmother, Lawanda Melton, in calling for an end to gun violence in Detroit.
The president of the Community Relations Council of Detroit’s 9th Precinct, Sandra Turner Handy, expressed outrage over the death.
‘It’s time for us to stop crying all the time with the chief about our babies being shot,’ she said, ’11 years old. And she was doing nothing but having fun being a kid.’
11-year-old Saniyah Pugh (left) was killed on Saturday when a stray bullet ripped through her grandmother’s (left) house and struck her in the back
‘A home used to be somewhere safe. School used to be somewhere safe,’ Melton said, ‘Nowadays, you’re not safe anywhere. No one’s safe.’
‘It’s unbearable. I have a daughter who’s without her child now, who’s empty, looking in her eyes. It just looks like an empty soul. She had nothing left in her. She lost her best friend. She lost her daughter,’ she said.
Detroit Police chief James White said that a number of leads and warrants lead to the arrest of the two suspects, but declined to give details to reporters.
‘We have to be careful we are working an angle on this case that we’re pretty confident that is what happened, but we don’t want to compromise this investigation,’ White said.
Pugh was staying at her grandmother’s home (above) with four other young family members when she was killed
Police outside of Melton’s home in Detroit after her granddaughter was struck and killed by a stray bullet
Cops confirmed that there was gun activity in the vicinity of Melton’s home at the time that Pugh was shot, though that have not confirmed whether they were connected.
They also say they recovered weapons from the area, but cannot associate them with the killing yet.
White declined to comment on whether it was suspected that the house was targeted.
Chief White decried ‘irresponsible gun ownership’ and the ‘irresponsible use of a weapon,’ as the cause of the death.
‘It is of epidemic proportions right now in our country and in our city,’ he said.
‘My children and grandchildren are scarred,’ Melton said, ‘They are totally scarred from this because all of them had to see this and experience this. Something that I wouldn’t want my worst enemy to even experience.’
Pugh, a middle school student in Detroit, was a member of the gymnastics and cheerleading teams. She would have turned 12 this month
President of the Community Relations Council of Detroit’s 9th Precinct, Sandra Turner Handy, saying it was time to stop crying about ‘our babies being shot’
Pugh attended the Washington Carver Academy middle school, and was a member of the gymnastics and cheerleading teams. She would have turned 12 this month.
‘Saniyah was a very beautiful, intelligent,’ her grandmother said, ‘She was a very talented little girl.’
Authorities in Detroit are aiming to crack down on gun violence, pledging on Monday to bring criminals accused of gun crimes to federal court, where sentences are often heftier than those handed down in state court.
‘As temperatures rise, so does violence,’ said US Attorney Dawn Ison, saying that the prosecutors would work closely with Detroit police, and focus on the city’s 8th and 9th precincts.
‘There is more urban violence still than mass shootings,’ she said.
Mayor Mike Duggan said that shooting victims were down 25% compared to the same time last year, ‘but it doesn’t feel like a celebration.’