A 9-year-old girl was the victim of a "gang-related" shooting when she was hit by gunfire as she played on a York street and later died Sunday afternoon, according to the district attorney.
Ciara Savage, of Lancaster, was playing with several children in the 500 block of South Duke Street just after 2:30 p.
Ciara was visiting with her aunt at the time, police said. She was taken to York Hospital by a relative where she died a short time later, police said.
A red car believed to be used in the drive-by shooting was recovered by police a short time afterward in the city, said Lt. Tim Utley, who heads the detective bureau. The vehicle was abandoned, he said.
Utley said the girl was not the intended target.
"They were shooting at someone there. Unfortunately, this kid got in the path of a bullet," Utley said.
Police are exploring several leads, but Utley said that witnesses have been reluctant to come forward.
York County District Attorney Stan Rebert said that the shooting was "absolutely" gang-related and urged witnesses to come forward. He said the community cannot tolerate the killing of an innocent child on a street in broad daylight.
"It's bad enough they are shooting at each other. But when our kids are in the crosshairs, it is time to put an end to this. Someone saw something. We need people to come forward," Rebert said.
An autopsy this morning at Lehigh Valley Medical Center showed the victim was shot in the back, according to the York County Coroner's Office. Ciara was taken to York Hospital by a relative. She died of a gunshot wound to the back, according to an autopsy conducted this morning at Lehigh Valley Medical Center. Her death has been ruled a homicide.
Anyone with information is urged to call city police at 849-2219 or 849-2204.
SCHOOL MOURNS LOSS
By TOM MURSE
Lancaster New Era staff writer
Students and teachers at Lancaster's Ross Elementary School were coping today with the slaying of 9-year-old Ciara Savage, a third-grader who was gunned down in a drive-by shooting on Mother's Day.
"This is a tragic incident. Our hearts go out to her family," spokeswoman Kelly Burkholder said this morning. "Numerous counselors were available to help students and staff who sought counseling."
Ciara, who lived on North Shippen Street in the city, was shot in the back as she played with a group of neighborhood kids outside her aunt's York row home, York County coroner Barry Bloss said.
She died at York Hospital a short time after the 2:30 p.m. shooting.
"This is a tragedy in the truest sense of the word," said Lt. Tim Utley of York City police. "Any homicide is bad. But when it happens to a 9-year-old innocent girl, tragedy isn't a big enough word to explain it."
Ciara lived in an apartment on North Shippen Street. A telephone number had been disconnected, and no one answered the door at the apartment today.
Ciara had previously attended Wharton Elementary on North Mary Street. The principals of the two schools, Camile Hopkins and Jackie Hair, could not be reached for comment this morning.
By TOM JOYCE
A 9-year-old girl was shot and killed in a drive-by shooting Sunday afternoon.
Ciara Savage, of Lancaster, was in the 500 block of South Duke Street when she was shot in the back about 2:35 p.m., York County Coroner Barry Bloss said.
Savage - who was visiting an aunt in York - was shot once in the back, York City Police and Bloss said.
A relative drove her to York Hospital, where she died a short time later, Bloss said.
Hours later on Sunday, as evening darkened into night, several young men began arranging candles on the sidewalk and lighting them. They illuminated dark streaks on the pavement, which the men said were bloodstains.
One man who declined to give his name said he was Ciara's uncle and said he was the one who took her to the hospital.
"She was just a joyous little girl," he said, and shook his head. "Nine years old."
During the next hour, more candles were lit and more people arrived. Among them was Gabriel Tyler of York, who said he was a family friend.
"There's nothing out here for these kids," he said. "They're just in the streets. It's just sad because you never know what's going to happen. Kids out here make the wrong decisions."
Darren Moore, who lives further north on the block, said he, his wife and his 7-year-old daughter were returning from a Mother's Day dinner when they saw the street blocked off by police.
Moore said he worries about his own daughter. Kids can't be kept inside all the time, he said.
But he said he frequently hears gunshots outside at night. They echo, and he said it's hard to know where they came from, much less the reasons behind them.
"That's pretty much commonplace," Moore said. "A couple of times a week."
Witnesses told police the shooter was in a red or burgundy vehicle, and an abandoned vehicle matching that description was found nearby, city police Lt. Tim Utley said. He could provide no further details about the vehicle.
Utley, who heads the city's detective bureau, said police were following leads Sunday night but had made no arrests.
Utley said it's always particularly difficult dealing with the killing of a young child.
"None of it is ever the best of scenarios," Utley said. "But that's a real tragedy."
HAVE A TIP?
Anyone with information on Sunday's drive-by shooting is asked to call York City Police at 849-2219 or the tip line at 849-2204.