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Gang shooting leaves 7-year-old girl dead



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A gang shooting in Salt Lake City tonight had tragic consequences. A 7-year-old girl was shot dead while playing on the sidewalk in front of her home. It happened about dinner time after a day in which gang threats were hurled around the neighborhood. Police say someone returned and started shooting.

Every gang shooting causes painful consequences, but this one is especially disturbing, and it stirred anger in the little girl's neighborhood.

"We thought we heard a burst of fireworks and then it was a real tragedy to find out it was a little girl that had been shot," neighbor Larry Fidler said.

There were shrieks of deep pain and grief, people shaking with emotion, and anger made visible as a sheet was lowered over the little girl's body.

Neighbor Ruth Fidler said, "We were just down at our house, just down the street, and we heard a little pop, pop, pop."

According to police, it was an ugly climax to a day of gang troubles.

Lt. Isaac Atencio, with the Salt Lake City Police Department, said, "Officers were here earlier in the day and took a report of some threats that were made against people here in the neighborhood."

About dinner time, gang members returned to the neighborhood and started shooting. Police say they were in a black S.U.V. "Unfortunately did have a 7-year-old girl that was standing on the sidewalk out playing this evening, and she was struck in the chest with one of the bullets from the shooting. We don't believe they were shooting at her . We think this young lady is an innocent bystander, at this time," Atencio said.

Several people were taken in for questioning. At least one was handcuffed at the scene. Several were rounded up at a house about two blocks away. Police say they aren't necessarily suspects but may know something. Some witnesses reported a white SUV speeding through the neighborhood just before the shooting.

Neighbor Sheldon Hall said, "And there's two guys in it. And they looked like they were all gang members and all dressed up for a drive-by."

Neighbor Lyndsey Vence said, "I don't know if it had anything to do with it. But they were going pretty fast, and they went down this way, and then the gunshots happened."

Atencio said, "It's unknown if that's related. What we do know right now is the suspect vehicle is a darker colored S.U.V. with brown stripes."

A couple of hours after the shooting, police recovered a vehicle that may have been involved in the shooting. We understand that almost immediately after the shooting, gang detectives knew one of the shooters by name and were out looking for him. So far, police have not announced the arrest of any actual suspects in this very disturbing outbreak of gang violence.

E-mail: hollenhorst@ksl.com

John Hollenhorst

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