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Two Pennsylvania teens charged with the death of an 8-year-old who was killed by police gunfire

<i>Family photo via KYW</i><br/>A Pennsylvania teenager was arrested for murder in connection with the August death of 8-year-old Fanta Bility
Family photo via KYW
A Pennsylvania teenager was arrested for murder in connection with the August death of 8-year-old Fanta Bility

By Sahar Akbarzai and Elizabeth Joseph, CNN

Two teenagers have been charged with murder on suspicion of opening fire outside a suburban Philadelphia high school football game, leading police to respond with gunfire that killed an 8-year-old girl, authorities said.

One of the teens, Angelo “AJ” Ford, 16, was arrested Wednesday and will be held without bond in connection with the August death of Fanta Bility, Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer said.

The second, Hasein Strand, 18, surrendered himself to authorities Thursday afternoon, Stollsteimer’s office said.

Both teens are charged with murder, even though they did not fire the bullet that killed Bility.

“Under the laws of this Commonwealth, my office has determined that Ford and Strand should both be held criminally liable for the murder of Fanta Bility, as well as for the wounding of all of the bystanders,” Stollsteimer said.

Ford and Strand exchanged multiple gunshots with each other following a verbal altercation at a football game at Academy Park High School in the Pennsylvania borough of Sharon Hill on August 27, Stollsteimer’s office said.

“This gunfight wounded one person caught in the crossfire” and led to police, stationed near the entrance to the football stadium, to discharge their weapons, Stollsteimer said.

The “gunfire by the officers wounded three bystanders and tragically killed Fanta Bility,” he said.

Bility, according to the DA’s statement, was rushed to and pronounced dead at a local hospital that evening. She was killed by a single gunshot wound to the torso, according to the Delaware County Medical Examiner.

Charges against the two young men stem from witness accounts and shell casing found at the scene, the district attorney said.

In addition to murder, both teens each face five counts of attempted murder and five counts of assault and endangerment, and other gun-related charges.

Strand also is charged with carrying a firearm without a license, possession of a weapon, and recklessly endangering another person, the police’s criminal complaint shows.

Ford faces the same and is also charged with possession of a prohibited firearm, possession of a firearm by a minor.

Christopher Welsh, a public defender for Delaware County, confirmed he represents Ford, but declined to provide any other details.

As CNN previously reported, Bility’s family filed a federal lawsuit in late October alleging the officers willfully and maliciously caused her death and injured her sister.

The mother and siblings of Bility are suing the borough of Sharon Hill, Police Chief Joseph Kelly Jr. and at least three Sharon Hill officers who allegedly shot and killed Bility outside the stadium as people were exiting, the lawsuit states.

“I was surprised that the charge of first-degree murder was brought because legally that would be difficult to prove. But I’m cheering for the district attorney, and I hope he wins,” said Bruce Castor, the Bility family attorney.

He told CNN on Thursday he wants the “focus of the case to remain” on the conduct of police officers. “The district attorney’s press release does not change that he (district attorney) said (the) fatal round was shot by police,” Castor said.

On November 18, a grand jury will review the entire case to determine the use of deadly force by police at the scene was justified, according to the statement from the district attorney.

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CNN’s Michelle Wolfe contributed to this story

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