A schoolgirl was killed in a drive-by-shooting as she went to get some cake at a family birthday party.
Chrisyah Stephens, seven, stepped outside around 7.40pm on Saturday when tragedy struck, said police in South Bend, Indiana.
The Muessel Elementary School pupil was among multiple people when the shots went off but was the only person hit before being rushed to hospital, confirmed St Joseph County Metro Homicide Unit.
In the wake of Chrisyah’s death, her dad Christopher Stephens said the community needs to come together and the “gun violence just has to stop”.
“It’s South Bend’s loss, it’s not my loss,” he told South Bend Tribune.
“My daughter was at an innocent birthday party, it would be her last birthday party. I need the community to come together and help all of us solve this situation.”
The devastated father went on to say: “My daughter Chrisyah was the sweetest girl y’all ever could meet.
“From day one she’s been a blessing. It’s like the saying, ‘Too good to be true.’ For seven years, that’s what I felt.”
He told WSBT22: “For a child to get tragically injured in the matter of a headshot wound is just unacceptable here. That shouldn’t happen to anyone’s child.”
Chrisyah’s uncle SlyLavecchio Hines told local press six shots went off about 20 seconds after the attendees had sung ‘Happy Birthday’ and were preparing to eat the cake with ice cream.
Mr Hines added he believes the shooter was “targeting us”.
No arrests have been made with police continuing investigations.
In a statement, South Bend Police Chief Scott Ruszkowski said over the weekend four people were shot in the area.
He said there have been 47 shootings in the last three months and 98 shootings this year, 16 of those homicides.
“As a community, we can no longer accept this senseless violence and we all have to do our part,” he continued.
“I have extra patrols, detectives working nearly 24/7 to solve these crimes…Life doesn’t have to be and shouldn’t be like this, but in order for it to stop, our community has to say and do something.”