Authorities are accusing Ford, 16, and Strand, 18, of shooting at each other outside a Philadelphia-area high school football game in August.
When police arrived and began shooting, reports indicate, 8-year-old Fanta Bility was struck by the crossfire and died at the scene.
Ford was taken into custody on Wednesday. Police said they are still searching for Strand.
Prosecutors: Angelo Ford and Hasein Strand Responsible for Child’s Death
According to prosecutors, Angelo Ford and Hasein Strand were outside an Academy Park High School football game on Aug. 27 when they began to exchange gunfire.
Police arrived and fired into a vehicle they believed was related to the gunfight. Fanta Bility was hit in the back and declared dead at the scene. Four other bystanders — including her 13-year-old sister, Mamasa — were wounded by police gunfire.
But for Delaware County First Assistant District Attorney Tanner Rouse, the decision to prosecute the teens for her murder was “very simple.”
“They were attempting to kill one another that night, and as a direct result a little girl is dead,” Rouse said in a statement.
District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer agreed, saying Ford and Strand were “shooting to kill.”
“Still, the pursuit of justice for Fanta demands that my office continue its comprehensive review of the actions of all parties involved in the tragic chain of events,” the DA added.
A grand jury is deciding whether to indict the officers who shot and killed Fanta Bility, according to Fox 29 Philadelphia. Specifically, grand jurors are determining whether the officers have “criminal culpability” in the child’s murder, and whether their “use of deadly force was justified.”
The individual officer who shot Bility has not been publicly named by police.
Bruce Castor, the lawyer representing Fanta and Mamasa’s family, said they do not hold the teens responsible for the shooting of their daughters.
“I want the focus to remain on the Sharon Hill police officers, whose negligent and reckless behavior in reacting as they did is what killed Fanta Bility,” Castor told reporters.
“From the point of view of the Bility family, these officers killed Fanta, and they need to be held accountable for that, and those responsible for their supervision and training need to be held accountable for that.”
Hasein Strand is Still at Large
While 16-year-old Angelo Ford is in custody, prosecutors said Hasein Strand is still at large. The 18-year-old is reportedly being hunted by the U.S. Marshals.
Prosecutors said that the teens are being charged with first-degree murder for Bility’s death, as well as aggravated assault and weapons charges stemming from the Aug. 27 incident.
Ford was arrested this week, and was reportedly denied bail. He remains in police custody as of Thursday.
Police have not disclosed the motive in the alleged shootout, though an affidavit obtained by the Philadelphia Inquirer claims that the two were “on opposite sides of a conflict between two groups of teenagers during the football game.”
Community Mourns Fanta Bility
Family of the slain 8-year-old continue to mourn her loss.
“My family is still devastated, my family is still hurting,” said Saddiq Muhammad, Fanta’s cousin, at her funeral in August. “She was a beautiful little girl.”
On a GoFundMe page set up just after the shooting, Fanta Bility’s former kindergarten teacher wrote that she was “bright, artistic, sweet, and silly.”
“To this day, my classroom runs on what she taught me. Most memorable was her ability to remind you through the smallest gestures,” wrote Jennifer Lebron.
“Fanta would take the smallest pieces of scrap she would find after crafts and choice time and it would become something beautiful.”