DETROIT (WWJ) – Authorities say two people are in custody in the shooting of a toddler in Detroit.
Police Thursday morning told WWJ Newsradio 950 that 2-year-old McKenzie Oldham had died; but, during a news conference later in the day, Assistant Chief Steve Dolunt said that she was “in grave condition,” but still alive.
A hunt for the alleged gunman — identified as 31-year-old Cleveland Smelley — ended with an arrest at an 8 Mile Road motel.
“We made entry with a key; Mr. Smelley gave up with no signs of struggle,” Dolunt said. “We did not recover a weapon as of yet, or his cell phone.”
Smelley got into an argument with the girl’s father, according to investigators, at around 7:40 p.m. Wednesday outside of a home on Fairmount Drive, in a neighborhood along Kelly Road just south of 8 Mile roads.
The father and daughter were sitting in a car when Smelley took out a gun and fired one shot, according to police. The bullet missed the man he was arguing with, but hit the little girl in the head. The father rushed the girl to the hospital, but authorities said Thursday morning that she had died from her injuries.
Neighbors have said the fight was sparked by a spilled drink.
“Back in the day if there was a fight, the winner went to jail and the loser went to the hospital. Now it seems that the winner, we end up getting in custody and the loser ends up in a casket,” Assistant Police Chief Steve Dolunt told WWJ. “I’m tired of that. And especially when it comes to kids, I have no use for an individual that would have total disregard for a child’s life.”
The shooting occurred the same day Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy announced charges in several shootings involving children.
“It’s been a rough couple weeks,” said Dolunt. “There’s no excuse for it. You can’t say it’s the weather, you can’t. There’s no excuse for brandishing a firearm around kids.”
Police said two others, including the child’s father, were taken into custody in connection with the incident earlier in the day. He was later released.
Charges against Smelley are pending. The name of the other person in custody has not been released.
Anyone with information about this incident is urged to contact police at 313-596-1616.
Initial reports identified the girl as being 3-years-old. This story has been corrected to show the girl is actually 2; her birthday is in June.