One family’s worst nightmare came true in the evening of July 30 when a 3-year-old girl was shot dead by a 7-year-old. Dalis Cox of Washington, D.C., was killed in an apartment in the 600th block of 46th Place SE. Dalis was found unresponsive and died from her injuries in hospital.
This is what you need to know:
1. Police Have Classified Dalis’ Death as an Accident
Despite originally tweeting a description of a suspect in the shooting, D.C. Police would later say in a press conference that they have no active suspects. Police Chief Cathy Lanier has expressed confidence that the shooting was accidentally committed by a 7-year-old boy — whose identity has not been disclosed due to the suspect’s age.
“We have no reason to believe that it’s anything other than an accident. So what we’re looking at is how the gun got into the house,” Lanier said. “We believe it was a young child that got their hands on a gun, so we do believe it was an accident.”
Dalis’ family refused to wait for an ambulance and Dalis was driven to hospital by a squad car. Dalis was at home with her mother, her 7-year-old brother — who committed the shooting — and a teenaged boy. The teenager is currently being investigated as a possibility on how the gun made it into the apartment.
2. The Gun Involved Was Not Legally Registered
During the press conference July 30, Lanier pointed out that possible criminal charges may be issued. The handgun used in the shooting was unregistered, making the weapon illegal to bring into D.C. It is also unclear where the gun was found.
“We have to figure out where the gun came from, how it got in the house,” Lanier said. “If there’s any criminal liability, someone will be charged.”
Lanier refused to confirm if there were any other firearms found on the property. However, Dalis’ family has confirmed that no known weapons were stored in the house.
3. Police Responding to the Scene was Met With Yelling
There was no 911 call made for this case. Officers were already reporting to a call from another apartment in the complex when they heard at least one gunshot and screaming from Dalis’ mother.
The family has refused to speak about the circumstances of Dalis’ death or the emotional state of the family out of respect and to allow time for grieving. However, it is clear that the family’s emotional pain is palpable.
“My heart goes out to Dalis and her family,” Washington Mayor Muriel E. Bowser said during the July 30 news conference. “The gun should have never been in a place where it could have been accidentally or otherwise used to put a little girl in danger.”
4. A GoFundMe Campaign has Been Started to Pay for Dalis’ Funeral
A GoFundMe page was created to help pay for the cost of Dalis’ funeral.
“The family is in great mourning and do not know how to cope with this loss,” read the fundraising page. “We are asking for your assistance to raise funds in order to help give our baby girl a proper funeral. Dalis was our sweet, precious little girl. Our hearts are broken. Please pray for our family’s healing and we thank you for your thoughts and consideration.”
5. Her Father’s Last Words to Dalis was He had to Go to Work
Timothy Cox, Dalis’ father, lived separately from Dalis and her mother but visited nearly every night. Cox and Dalis’ mother — whose name has not been released — had three children: Dalis, Dalis’ 7-year-old brother and her 10-year-old sister. On the night before the fatal shooting, Cox saw his daughter for the last time, telling her that he had to go to work and that he would see her tomorrow.
“She said, ‘Daddy, I want to come with you,'” Cox recalled to the Washington Post. “I said, ‘Baby, I have to go to work. I will be back to get you the next time.’ ”
“Dalis is my life and soul. I’m at a real loss. People need to make sure they are with their kids at all times. Tomorrow is not promised.”