Father charged in shooting death of girl, 4

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Maurice Phillips is charged in the Saturday shooting death of his 4-year-old daughter.

The father of a 4-year-old girl who was fatally shot in her family's East Kensington house this weekend has been charged with third-degree murder and other crimes.

Court records show that charges against Maurice "Stephon" Phillips, 30, were filed early Monday in the girl's death.

Police on Monday identified the slain child as Tahirah Phillips.

People at the home on the 200 block of East Mayfield Street initially told police that the girl's 5-year-old sibling had been playing with the gun, which accidentally went off, firing a shot into the girl's head.

"It's a stupid, idiotic act," Homicide Capt. James Clark said Monday. "It was completely reckless."

Phillips fled after the Saturday afternoon incident. That evening, he showed up at the 24th Police District and told authorities the other child had nothing to do with the shooting.

Phillips and his girlfriend, Tera Riddick, were living at the house in one of the city's most crime-ridden neighborhoods.

The shooting happened Saturday afternoon, when Tahirah and her six siblings – ages 13, 10, 5, 3, 1 and 7 months – were watching television and playing, according to police.

Phillips walked into the room, removed the gun from its holster and "started carelessly and recklessly" waving it around, Clark said.

The gun discharged, and Tahirah fell to floor. The other children began screaming.

Phillips allegedly then struck his 5-year-old daughter with his fist and wiped blood from his hand onto her shirt, to "try and even more show" that the child fired the lethal shot, Clark said. He then picked up Tahirah, carrying her into a bedroom, police said.

He called his fiancé, told her to come home and changed clothes and fled after she arrived.

Tahirah was pronounced dead at the scene at 2:27 p.m. Saturday.

Clark said investigators don't believe Phillips intended to kill his daughter, but was "grossly negligent."

He is facing charges of third-degree murder, involuntary manslaughter, endangering the welfare of children, possession an instrument of crime and recklessly endangering another person.

He was arraigned early Monday and was being held without bail, court records show.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for May 4.