A 5-year-old girl from Omaha was fatally shot as she ate breakfast inside her home on Wednesday morning, felled by a stray bullet from a drive-by shooting.
Officials responded to reports of gunfire along 45th Emmett Sts. around 9:45 a.m. Wednesday to find Payton Benson critically injured, police reported in a statement.
The fatal shot was fired from more than a city block away, said Police Chief Todd Schmaderer at a press conference Wednesday evening. The area had reportedly been plagued with gang violence and shooting incidents for the past several months.
Payton Benson was the city's first homicide victim for 2014, the police chief added.
"No one inside Payton's house or anyone associated with the house was the intended target," Schmaderer reported.
The 5-year-old's mother was unable to rush the girl to the nearest hospital after bullets from the gunfire flattened the tires of the family car, a relative of the family confirmed in an interview. Benson died shortly after getting hit due to the severity of her injuries.
"It makes me so mad right now," the 5-year-old's second cousin, Massey Allen, said in the interview. "She didn't even start school yet."
Benson, who'd moved to the city with her mother from crime-stricken Chicago, was also Omaha City Councilman Ben Gray's grandniece.
Authorities believe the three gunmen peppered the house with bullets using a handgun and high-powered rifle as they drove past in a black Jeep Commander, reported a local media outlet.
According to the police chief, the vehicle used by the suspects was found about two miles away from Benson's house, at an affordable-housing complex known as St. James Manor.