JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – One day after a 5-year-old girl was fatally shot Monday afternoon in an exchange of gunfire during an argument in the Highlands area of the Northside, Sheriff Mike Williams said police have issued warrants for two men -- both previous felons.
The grandparents of the victims said the 5-year-old girl, Kearria Attison, and her 4-year-old sister, Paris West, were sitting in a car with their mother outside a convenience store on Monaco Drive at De Paul Drive just after 4 p.m. when the shootout happened.
Williams said two groups of people were fighting over $180 when gunfire broke out with no concern for anyone else in the parking lot.
“A group of individuals that know each other had a conflict and (it) immediately goes to gunfire,” Williams said. “So we lost a child’s life over $180."
Williams said Johnathan Hall, 31, is wanted for arrest on a charge of aggravated battery -- a charge that will likely be updated since Kearria has died. Tom Everett Jr., 50, is already in custody charged with second-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
Williams said both have prior arrests and Williams said Everett’s rap sheet is 15 pages long.
Anyone who knows Hall’s whereabouts is asked to call the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office at 904-630-0500 or Crime Stoppers at 866-845-TIPS (8477).
Investigators also developed two persons of interest in the case but did not release their names. Williams said the suspects left the scene in a gold Buick.
UNCUT: Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams’ briefing on the girl’s death, names suspects
Assistant Chief Brian Kee, with the Sheriff’s Office, said when the two groups began shooting at each other, the 5-year-old girl, who was in the backseat of the car, was struck by gunfire and the 4-year-old, who was also in the backseat of the car, was injured by some of the debris.
Family members said the 5-year-old underwent surgery at UF Health Jacksonville to have a bullet removed from her head and she was in a medically induced coma but didn’t make it.
“Her heart stopped beating. And that was the second time. So she said, after five minutes of trying, they said my grandbaby gave up,” said Andrew West, the grandfather of the 5-year-old. “My grandbaby is not coming back. That was one of my happiest grandbabies."
Kee described the injury to the 4-year-old girl as minor. West said his 4-year-old granddaughter was also grazed by a bullet.
“Two little kids is in the hospital from getting shot from their mistake. They need to cut this mess out," he said.
Also, according to the grandfather, one of the people involved in the fight, which was captured on the store’s surveillance video, ran up to the girls’ mother and said he was sorry.
“He just left. A coward runs instead of staying there and waiting for the police so they can know what’s going on,” West said.
Williams said Tuesday that man has been questioned and is cooperating with the investigation.
UNCUT: Surveillance video of fight, gunfire that took life of 5-year-old
Officers with rifles and K-9s were at the scene, and a manhunt began. Williams said investigators working overnight developed identities of the gunmen and obtained the arrest warrant.
Mayor Lenny Curry addressed the senseless violence at his Tuesday news conference updating the city’s battle of coronavirus.
“(It’s a) sad reality is that ... even in the midst of what we’re experiencing and going through with this virus, we continue to see violence and tragedy like this,” Curry said.
State Attorney Melissa Nelson called the crime “heartbreaking and infuriating” and says the city is sick of these tragedies in which children are killed by gun violence.
Kearria Attison’s death caused so much outrage and sadness throughout the community and several people including a local rapper have reached out to the family to offer to pay for her funeral. A memorial was put in place outside the convenience store. West said he was thankful for the many people who are reaching out to help the family get through this difficult time.
“We appreciate it and we thank you all for that because that’s the kind of love families need," he said.