A 4-year-old girl is dead after she was shot while grocery shopping with her mom, who was also critically injured, in Pittsburgh’s Lincoln-Lemington-Belmar neighborhood on Thursday. 

Police didn’t provide many updates on Friday. 

“This incident occurred because some people decided to settle their differences by using guns and violence,” said Acting Pittsburgh Police Chief Thomas Stangrecki. “Our detectives and officers are working very hard to identify the individuals responsible for this crime and take them off the street.” 

People in the community are grief-stricken, their hearts breaking for the little girl’s family, who are left to bury their sweet, innocent baby while her mother is in the hospital fighting for her own life. 

Embrace Life Media shared photos of 4-year-old Kaari Thompson. Authorities haven’t identified the child officially, but say she died Friday morning at UPMC Children’s Hospital.

People close to the family said Kaari was the life of the party and was loved by everyone. 

Family friend and community activist Tiffani Walker said Kaari was a superstar in the making. At just 4 years old, she says her charismatic personality lit up the room.

Pittsburgh Public Schools said Kaari was a student at Pittsburgh Lincoln Early Childhood. In a statement, the district said she was a loving child who was always smiling and passing out hugs. 

“She enjoyed playing in the classroom’s housekeeping section and making pretend food for everyone,” a statement said. “She was very bright and an absolute joy to have in class. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family during this difficult time.”

Detectives say gunfire rang out on Lincoln Avenue in the city’s Lincoln-Lemington-Belmar neighborhood around 6:40 Thursday night, hitting the 4-year-old and her mom. Police say one of them was shot inside the Brooklyn Food Mart.

Thirty evidence markers could be seen scattered on the ground outside the store. 

“I’m not surprised but shocked in the fact that it’s so close to where I live, and a 4-year-old passing away behind that,” said Clifford Green, who lives nearby. 

Police said the shooters took off in unknown directions, which sparked an intense search for potentially multiple gunmen. Neighboring police departments were called in to help comb the area with K-9s and drones.

Detectives aren’t able to give a description of the suspects but they’re pleading with the public to help them catch this killer. 

“Anybody that saw or heard anything, anybody that has information that they’re hearing, anyone that saw or heard anything live or information that they’re hearing from another source, we’re asking and pleading with anybody to come forward and share that with us,” said Pittsburgh Police Zone 5 Commander Stephen Vinansky.

In a speech addressing gun violence Friday night, Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey thanked the community for stepping forward with tips in the past and asked them to come forward with information about Kaari’s death. 

“There’s no reason that a 4-year-old child should have been murdered because of gun violence in our city. None. There’s no reason why we should devalue life at this level,” Gainey said. 

He pleaded with people to stop picking up guns to solve problems. 

“They don’t solve problems. All they do is allow us to lose two people — the victim and the perpetrator,” he said. “Now we’ve got two families, two families injured that are going to lose loved ones. No one is going to stop it except for us.” 

Gainey said everyone — government, police, neighborhoods, community leaders, faith-based leaders and parents — is needed to stop the violence. 

“We got so many guns on our street and you hear me say it over and over again that our young people are getting these guns and they feel the way to resolve conflict is by gunplay, gun violence. It is not. And we have to step up.” 

Kaari’s death is the 67th homicide in Pittsburgh this year. At least 14 of those were children under the age of 18, all to gun violence.

Friends of the family said Kaari’s mom is still in critical condition as of Friday evening.

Source: CBS News