The 9-year-old girl who was shot and killed near a shopping center on Cleveland's east side Wednesday night was shot in the head during a gunfight between two groups, police officials confirmed on Thursday.
The Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner's Office identified the victim as Saniyah Nicholson, 9, of Maple Heights. She was shot at the intersection of Lee Road and Harvard Avenue.
Homicide detective Sgt. Ali Pillow said that Nicholson was in her mother’s car with her sister while her mother was running errands at around 7:15 p.m. A fight broke out between two groups of people, and they ended up shooting at each other across the roadway. Nicholson was caught in the crossfire, the detective said.
CPD's Homicide Unit has released images of two people who are considered "persons of interest" in the shooting. Chief of Police Calvin Williams also announced a $10,000 reward for information.
Cleveland police are focusing on these two men they say are "persons of interest" in a shooting that left a 9-year-old girl dead. pic.twitter.com/UzTzketwt1
— Mona Kosar Abdi (@MonaAbdiWEWS) June 21, 2018
“We’re not going to rest on this - will make sure the people responsible are brought to justice,” Chief Williams said.
Sgt. Pillow said that detectives have information about the persons of interest, but have not positively identified them yet. They have also spoken to several cooperating witnesses, and Sgt. Pillow said they are “comfortable” with where they are at in the investigation, although it is still early on.
Sgt. Pillow added that the FBI and ATF are providing assistance, along with several other agencies.
“We do need to do more,” Sgt. Pillow said. “Anytime a child is killed, it speaks to our society right now.”
Cleveland Police issued the following statement late Wednesday night.
Members of the Cleveland Division of Police Homicide Unit is seeking information regarding the identity of individuals who are persons of interest in a shooting that occurred tonight at approximately 7:15 pm.
Officers responded to the area of Cloverside ave and Lee Rd for “shots fired.” Upon their arrival, officers located the 9 yr old female victim who was immediately taken to RB&C hospital where she expired from her injuries. Anyone with information regarding the identity of the individuals or vehicle seen in the photos is asked to contact investigators at 216-623-5464 or 216-621-1234