Fanta Bility

DA ‘Nearly Certain' Officers Returning Gunfire Killed Girl During H.S. Game

Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer revealed the update in a statement on Monday. 

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Investigators have concluded with “near certainty” that bullets fired by Sharon Hill police officers who were shooting back at gunmen during a high school football game last month struck and killed an 8-year-old girl. 

Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer revealed the update in a statement on Monday. 

“Today, on the one month anniversary of the tragic shooting in Sharon Hill Borough that took the life of 8-year old Fanta Bility and wounded four others, I met with the Bility family to provide an update on the significant progress my team of prosecutors and detectives has made into the events of that terrible night,” Stollsteimer wrote. 

The ordeal took place on Aug. 27 when an argument between a group of young men led to a shooting on the 900 block of Coates Street in Sharon Hill, just one block away from where a high school football game was taking place at Academy Park High School. 

The shooting occurred just as spectators were leaving the stadium. 

As the gunfire erupted on Coates Street, three Sharon Hill police officers were positioned near the stadium exit. A car then turned onto Coates Street directly in front of the officers. 

“We have concluded that the gunfire, combined with the movement of the vehicle, precipitated responsive gunfire from the Sharon Hill police officers,” Stollsteimer wrote. 

Investigators said the officers fired back at the gunmen. They also concluded with “near certainty” that four of the five people who were struck by gunfire during the shooting, including 8-year-old Fanta Bility, were struck by shots fired by the Sharon Hill police officers. Stollsteimer said they are still awaiting final forensic reports, however. 

“My office’s Special Investigations Unit is conducting a review of the legality of the officer’s discharge of weapons,” Stollsteimer said.

Bility later died from her injuries.

The three Sharon Hill officers who fired their weapons have been placed on administrative duties pending the results of the investigation. 

“Sharon Hill Borough has engaged Kelley B. Hodge of Fox, Rothschild LLP to conduct an administrative review of the Sharon Hill Police Department policies and procedures related to police use of deadly force,” Stollsteimer wrote. “To aid the investigation of the officers’ use of deadly force, I have petitioned our President Judge to impanel an investigative grand jury.”

Stollsteimer said the grand jury will be made up of “lay citizens who listen to and consider evidence presented by prosecutors.”

“If the investigative grand jury believes the evidence presented by the prosecution warrants the filing of criminal charges against an individual or individuals, an investigative grand jury presentment will be issued,” he wrote. “It’s important to note that, under Pennsylvania law, grand jury evidence and testimony is protected by secrecy in order to protect the integrity of the investigation.”

Stollsteimer said the grand jury will hear testimony on the shooting and then issue a comprehensive report. He also said no further updates will be provided by his office pending the completion of the grand jury investigation, which could take weeks if not months to conclude. 

“I understand the community’s desire for closure but ask instead for continued patience as we work to provide justice and accountability for the all the victims of this tragedy,” he said.

No charges have been filed in relation to the shooting. Three people were initially detained and later released from custody.

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