A 31-year-old man in Akron, Ohio, was arrested by U.S Marshals for allegedly shooting and killing a 4-year-old girl with an assault rifle, according to ABC affiliate News 5 Cleveland. Darnell L. Bitting is being charged with murder and using weapons under disability.
The state medical examiner’s office has identified the victim as Janaya Swain.
At around 10 p.m. on Friday, the victim’s mother, De’Azha Swain, arrived at a home in the 900 block of Mercer Avenue where Bitting, who she had a disagreement with earlier in the day, was located. It was reported that she was there to retrieve her belongings. However, Swain and Bitting, who are believed to be a couple, reportedly exchanged words through the window and Swain began smashing them out when he wouldn’t open the door.
That’s when Bitting purportedly walked out of the home armed with an assault rifle. Swain ran back to her vehicle, a 2008 Dodge Avenger, where her mother, Juanita Brown, and four children, ages 3, 4, 6, and 7, were waiting.
Summit Count Police officials say that Bitting allegedly fired one shot in the dark and a bullet pierced through Swain’s vehicle. Brown was in the passenger seat at the time of the shooting, but quickly leaped over to the driver’s side and drove off, attempting to get the children to safety. Unfortunately, it was too late.
We’ve learned more about the connection between the little girl who was shot and killed in Akron and her suspected shooter. https://t.co/QdJN2OwlXc
— News 5 Cleveland (@WEWS) February 20, 2018
It wasn’t long after the shooting that Swain and her mother realized that Janaya had been shot in the head. She was rushed to Akron Children’s Hospital, but she did not survive.
Janaya was described as a “lovable and smart” child with a “pretty smile.” A GoFund Me page was created for the victim to help with funeral expenses, but relatives are asking that you do not contribute. They have also asked the creator of the campaign to remove it from the site but have yet to do so.
Swain wrote, “Do not make a GoFund Me account of my child. No money is needed. We are not broke and is not wanting for no money. Do not try and collect money off my check LDS death. Please remove this, and thank you.”
“I have a great support system and so does her dad. He and I both are asking that you remove this! Please do not donate any money to this funding.”
Bitting was arrested the following day around 4 p.m. at a home in the 700 block of Corley Street, according to U.S. Marshal Pete Elliott. He was booked into the Summit County Jail.
Fox 8 Cleveland reports that Bitting is no stranger to the law. He has two previous felony convictions involving domestic disputes, and authorities say he shouldn’t have been carrying a gun.
Bitting is scheduled to appear before a judge on Tuesday at the Akron Municipal Court for an arraignment. Summit County police officials say he could be facing additional criminal charges.