Weapons cache found, connected to shooting of girl

1:48 PM, Apr 7, 2009   |    comments
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Video: 8-year-old killed in drive-by shooting

  • Paris Whitehead-Hamilton


St. Petersburg, Florida  -- Police say an arrest has been made after an eight-year-old girl was struck and killed by gunfire while she slept in the front room of her south St. Petersburg home. 

After catching suspect Stephen C. Harper, police say he led them to a cache of weapons that may have been used in the killing.  Among the stash: three assault rifles, two shotguns, and a bullet-resistant vest.

Detectives say they're still looking two or three other suspects who were also involved in the shooting.

Eight-year-old Paris Whitehead-Hamilton already knew tragedy after her mother died following a fall three years ago.  Since her mother died, Paris has lived with her aunt, Sherita Joseph, at Joseph's home on Preston Avenue in south St. Petersburg.

Early Sunday morning, bullets ripped through the front of that house while Paris slept in the front room.  Police say someone fired fifty rounds from a semi-automatic weapon.

The little girl was taken to Bayfront Medical Center, where she died.  No one else was injured.

Police say the bullets may have been targeted at one of Paris' relatives.

St. Petersburg Police tell us the shooting seems to be an act of retaliation between young adults in the area.  Detectives say an adult relative of the eight-year-old lived in the home as well, and that relative was involved in the dispute.

"I'm not going to say this is gang-related but we know there was a neighborhood dispute," said Chief Chuck Harmon of the St. Petersburg Police Department.

10 Connects connected with Paris' uncle, who says Paris' aunt is staying at a hotel right now because she is too distraught to be around family.

Even though police say this shooting was something between young people, the uncle says his sister feels like this was her fault.

Meanwhile, the family is trying to get in touch with Paris' father, Robert Hamilton, who is serving in Iraq right now with the Navy. 

On Tuesday, St. Petersburg Chief of Police Chuck Harmon said that a weapons stash has been found that is connected to this case. Weapons found include:

2 AR 15 assault rifles,  one magazine still has a round of bullets

2 pistol grip 12 guage pump shot guns

1 hunting rifle 308 caliber with scope

A small caliber revolver

Hollow point ammunition bullets

Bullet proof vest

Police also said today that this shooting may have taken place after a fistfight Saturday night, and that one of the fighters may have been the target.

At this point, the family is hoping for people in the community to come forward with information that will help police track down the two or three other young men officers believe took part in the shooting.

Anyone with information in this case is urged to contact the St. Pete Police Department Communications Center at 727-893-7780 or call the Homicide Squad at 727-893-7164.

Erica Pitzi, 10 Connects Reporter

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