Philadelphia

Police Identify Suspected Triggerman in 2-Year-Old’s Killing

Police announced Wednesday that the man is in custody but has not been formally charged as they continue to investigate

What to Know

  • Two men are suspected in the shooting death of a 2-year-old girl inside her Kensington neighborhood home.
  • Freddie Perez, 30, of Chester, Pennsylvania, is charged with murder and attempted murder in connection to the death of Nikolette Rivera.
  • Tavon Thomas is the suspected of pulling the trigger and is expected to be formally charged.

Police Thursday identified the man suspected of killing a 2-year-old girl while "indiscriminately" firing into a home in Philadelphia's Kensington neighborhood.

Tavon Thomas was arrested Wednesday night, and now investigators believe he was the person who used a rifle to fire multiple rounds at a home that took the life of Nikolette Rivera, Acting Philadelphia Police Department Commissioner Christine Coulter said.

Thomas, in his late 20s, is charged with murder, Coulter said.

On Wednesday, police announced charges against another man, 30-year-old Freddie Perez of Chester, Pennsylvania, in connection to the girl's death. He is charged with murder, multiple counts of attempted murder, and conspiracy to commit murder, police said.

"There's no doubt in my mind that we have the right people," Coulter said.

Investigators believe the deadly shooting was a result of a drug dispute between Thomas and Perez and Rivera's father, who was not home at the time, the commissioner said.

"They were looking to take over a drug location and having disputes with other people who they were involved with in drugs," Coulter said.

Rivera died from bullets fired into her home on North Water Street in Kensington on Sunday afternoon.

The girl was shot once in the back of the head while her mother was shot once in the right side of the head and once in the back. The contractor, who was doing work inside the home at the time, was also shot once in the stomach.

"When they went to the house and fired the shots, the contractor who was there was mistaken for their target," Coulter said. "They fired into the house and indiscriminately shot three people."

Perez was arraigned Wednesday on murder and attempted murder charges.

"I want to thank the Philadelphia Police Department for working around the clock to bring those responsible for this terrible violence to justice," Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner said. "Their diligence and swift work ensured Freddie Perez was brought into custody within days, and that we now have additional evidence to start to bring closure to this investigation."

Philadelphia Police

"I want to thank the Philadelphia Police Department for working around the clock to bring those responsible for this terrible violence to justice," Krasner said. "Their diligence and swift work ensured Freddie Perez was brought into custody within days, and that we now have additional evidence to start to bring closure to this investigation."

Surveillance video with the help of tips led investigators to a vehicle that proved critical to catching Perez, Coulter said. Perez was arrested at his Chester home that he shares with family members, including children, according to Coulter.

A man was arrested in connection to the shooting death of a 2-year-old girl, police confirmed Tuesday.

Another shooting occurred just minutes earlier on the 400 block of East Clearfield Street, which is about a half a mile away. No one was hurt during that shooting. Coulter said they found evidence that a rifle was used in the Water Street shooting while both a rifle and a handgun -- the latter wielded by Perez -- had been used in the Clearfield Street shooting.

"We won't rest until everybody who's responsible for the little girl's death and that incident are in custody," Coulter added.

Rivera was one of two young victims of gun violence over the weekend.

On Saturday, 11-month-old Yazeem Jenkins was shot while in the back seat of a car driving on North 7th Street, police said.

Jenkins was struck four times by bullets: once in the head, once in the neck and twice in the buttocks, police said. He remains in critical condition and is not expected to fully recover from his wounds, according to investigators.

The city offered $30,000 rewards in both cases.

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