Police in Phoenix, Ariz., have arrested a 20-year-old man suspected of shooting and killing a 10-year-old girl in an apparent road-rage incident on Wednesday.
Officials identified the suspect as Joshua Gonzales, who was booked into jail on a count of first-degree murder and three counts of aggravated assault.
“Without community involvement and without those tips, a little girl was gunned down and we wouldn’t have been able to find the suspect,” Police Chief Jeri Williams said at a press conference Friday.
Authorities said modifications were made to Gonzales’ truck after the deadly incident. According to ABC15, a community tip helped police track down the car but it was forensic evidence that tied a handgun discovered in the suspect’s garage to the deadly shooting.
On Thursday, police identified the shooting victim as Summerbell Brown, who was riding home with her family when the tragic shooting occurred. Brown’s father, Dharquintium Brown was also injured in the shooting but was treated at a hospital and later released, police said.
The grieving father remembers his daughter as a fun-loving child who enjoyed gymnastics and dancing and was on the honor roll at her elementary school, where she made A’s and B’s.
“She was the sweetest person on this planet,” Brown told the Arizona Republic. “She cared about everybody.”
According to police, the shooting occurred around 5:45 p.m Wednesday. Summerbell was in a car with her mother, father, and sister when they noticed a white Ford F-150 pickup truck following them very closely. When the family finally pulled into their driveway, that’s when the gunman opened fire.
Dharquintium said the suspect was “ready to start shooting.”
“I got out of my vehicle, and asked him, ‘What’s going on?’ Because he had stopped at my house,” he recalled. “I asked him, ‘What’s up?’ And he just got to firing. He shot my car, and he shot me, and he shot up my house and he killed my daughter.”
Authorities said the suspect sped away after the shooting.
Summerbell were rushed to a hospital in extremely critical condition, Arizona’s ABC15 reported. The little girl died from her injuries the next day.
“This nightmare is going to replay in my head forever,” Taniesha Brown told the station of her daughter. “I can’t sleep. I hope she’s at peace.”
On Thursday, Phoenix police released a sketch of the man in the white pickup truck. It’s still unclear what prompted the suspect to begin shooting, but authorities say road rage may be to blame. In a statement, police Sgt. Vince Lewis said witnesses recalled seeing the truck following closely behind the family’s car as they pulled into their home.
#BREAKING: First look at 20-year-old suspect arrested after deadly shooting of 10-year-old girl during apparent road rage incident https://t.co/KgxrpWcRmb #abc15 pic.twitter.com/kKrh3CUKQI
— ABC15 Arizona (@abc15) April 5, 2019
“It suggests that it could have started on the roadway, but we still are needing more information,” Lewis said.
Police received a tip and located the vehicle wanted in connection with the murder at a home near 61st Avenue and Indian School Road Thursday night. Police also located the weapon that was used.
Brown’s neighbors said they plan to hold a vigil for the family, and maybe also raise money on their behalf, according to the Arizona Republic. Neighbor Rosanna Castro called the shooting “senseless” and said the incident hit way too close to home.
“I felt that pain,” Castro said. “I got my own daughter. It was heartbreaking.”
She added: “If we’re all united and stand up, maybe this thing will stop. The shootings will stop.”
The suspect is described as a Latino man between 30 and 40 years old. Authorities are asking anyone with information about Wednesday’s shooting to contact call Phoenix police or Silent Witness at 480-WITNESS.
Watch more in the video below.