These babies deserve better!
Fanta Bility’s family should have been celebrating her first day of third grade last Monday. Instead, they were preparing to lay the 8-year-old to rest on Tuesday. According to CBS Philly, police officers are likely responsible for her shooting and death. She was in the stands with her family leaving a football game between Academy Park and Pennsbury High School when gunfire erupted from the crowd. Fanta was rushed to Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital with a fatal gunshot wound to the chest.
Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer is still looking for information on the civilians who allegedly opened fire in what police described as a drive-by shooting. The police officers who were on the scene for crowd control then fired back repeatedly while hundreds of people scrambled for safety.
“Tragically, our investigation has now determined that there is a high probability that the responsive gunfire of the Sharon Hill Police Officers struck four victims, including the shots that killed 8-year-old Fanta Bility and wounded her sister,” Stollsteimer wrote in an official statement on the preliminary investigation. “The death of Fanta and the wounding of her sister and the other students are a heartbreaking tragedy for her family, her friends, and the entire Delaware County community.”
NBC News reports that the Sharon Hill Borough Council plans to hire an outside firm to investigate the police department’s policies and procedures “are at the forefront of community policing. The council also stated that the three unnamed Sharon Hill police officers who carelessly fired into a crowd of students and their families are on paid administrative leave.
“We are hurt, and we need justice,” Fanta’s Aunt Fatima told the Philadelphia Inquirer after the funeral. “She didn’t deserve this. She was an innocent girl. She did nothing wrong, and she never hurt anyone.”
Fanta’s cousin, Mariam Sanoe, described her as a bubbly child who loved fashion and making TikTok videos. “She had her own style, and she was very confident. She was funny. She made everybody laugh. Everybody loved her in the community.”
The young girl was from a big family of six children and part of a tight-knit community of immigrants from Guinea. She was at the stadium to support her cousin, who played in the football game, and her older sister Mamasa, who was performing as a cheerleader and is currently recovering from her own gunshot wounds.
While local authorities continue to investigate, Fanta’s grieving community is demanding justice and accountability. According to Bruce Castor, an attorney speaking on behalf of the distraught family:
“There were upwards of 25 shots fired. We don’t know if they were all fired by police, but it certainly appears to be the vast majority.”
Even though early evidence indicates the police officers involved may have the blood of innocent children on their hands, Castor says the initial shooter who is still at large could also be held accountable for Fanta’s death.
“The person who was involved in firing those shots and setting this off could face second-degree murder charges.”
What about charges for the three police officers? If they fired the majority of 25 or more shots, those officers endangered the lives of everyone at the game just as much as the unidentified shooter. Paid leave and desk duty are not justice or accountability.
Rest in peace, Fanta.