Brandoniya Bennett, 9, of Texas, was about to start fourth grade
A Texas girl sitting in her home was killed Wednesday when an amateur rapper who felt disrespected by a rival’s lyrics allegedly opened fire and targeted the wrong apartment, say police.
Brandoniya Bennett, 9, was on her couch after getting her nails done in preparation for the first day of school when shots rang out in the Roseland Townhomes in Dallas.
A man later identified as Tyrese Simmons, 19, had gone to the apartment complex to confront an apparent rival, and allegedly shot at the wrong home, the Dallas Police Department says in a statement obtained by PEOPLE.
Simmons and the intended target “consider themselves rappers and used social media to disparage the other,” Dallas police allege.
Simmons allegedly felt insulted by something his rival had included in his lyrics about him, say police.
“In their rap songs they dis each other,” Dallas Police Department Maj. Danny Williams said, local station WBAP/KLIF reports. “It got to the point where this group wanted to come over and solve it by fighting.”
Simmons turned himself in at the Dallas County Jail Wednesday night, say Dallas Police.
He was charged with capital murder and could face the death penalty. It was not immediately clear if he has entered a plea or retained an attorney to speak on his behalf.
Now the child’s family is left to grapple with her senseless death.
Described as full of life and love, Brandoniya was about to become a fourth-grader when she was killed, ABC affiliate WFAA reports.
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“She was so excited,” her grandmother, Tonya Elder, told WFAA. “She said, ‘I’m going to be in the fourth grade.’ She was ready to go.”
When Elder heard the shots and ran to her daughter’s apartment, she told WFAA, “I looked down at the floor where my daughter sat holding her baby girl, her only baby girl, in a puddle of blood, because they stole her life.”
She recounted how she and her daughter stayed by the child’s side at the hospital, where she later died.
Elder told WFAA she begged her granddaughter to wake up.
“I said Niya, ‘Get up. Get up for granny one more time.'”
In between sobs, she said, “She was the sweetest thing.”
The little girl’s murder has also left the community reeling.
“As adults, as parents as police officers, we’re supposed to make them safe, as community leaders, we’re supposed to make them safe,” Maj. Williams said, KTVT reports. “She was sitting in her house, she felt safe… she was only 9-years-old.”
Dallas police are asking that anyone with information about this incident to contact Detective Morgan with the Dallas Police Department Homicide Unit at (214) 671-3630, or email@example.com. Please reference case #164774-2019.
Crime Stoppers will pay up to $5,000 for information called into Crime Stoppers that leads to the arrest and indictment for this felony offense and other felony offenses. Call Crime Stoppers at 214-373-TIPS (8477), 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the family with funeral expenses.