An Arizona man with an “extensive” criminal record has been charged in connection with a road-rage incident, in which a ten-year-old girl was gunned down in front of her family.
As ABC News reported at the time, at about 5:45 p.m. local time on Wednesday (8:45 p.m. Eastern Time), mom Taniesha Brown noticed a white pickup truck following them. The family pulled into their driveway and waited, hoping that whoever was following them would drive past.
They did not.
Instead, the suspect, unknown at the time but later identified as 20-year-old Joshua Gonzalez, opened fire. Ten-year-old Summerbell Brown was shot and killed as her parents watched in horror. Her father, Dharquintium Brown, was also shot and suffered a non-life-threatening injury. Her mother was not injured.
“This is heartbreaking… that I lost my baby like this. She was just a baby,” Taniesha Brown told reporters.
Police say the young girl’s murder was the result of road rage. According to a later Yahoo News report, the suspect’s truck had cut off the Browns’ vehicle in traffic. After following the family for an unknown distance, Brown and the suspect got into a verbal altercation.
“I looked at him dead in the face, he had this deranged look,” Taniesha recounted.
Authorities say the family and the suspect did not know each other. Phoenix police initially had little to go on besides a description of the suspect, a composite sketch, and a description of his truck. After publicizing his sketch, as well as a surveillance camera photo of his truck, law enforcement honed in on Gonzalez.
Summerbell Brown was killed in Phoenix yesterday when a driver of a white Ford F-150 followed the car she was in with her father and shot them in their driveway. Her family has shared this photo of her. Summerbell was just 10 years old. pic.twitter.com/Zulv7XhpIP
— 12 News (@12News) April 4, 2019
On Friday, Phoenix police announced that Gonzalez had been booked on one count of first-degree murder and three counts of aggravated assault. Phoenix Police Sgt. Vince Lewis said in a news conference that Gonzalez had an “extensive” criminal history, but did not elaborate.
Back in the Brown family’s neighborhood, friends remember Summerbell as a bright, outspoken young lady who loved dancing, gymnastics and was on the honor roll at Holdeman Elementary School. Neighbor Rosanna Castro tells The Arizona Republic that she hopes she can organize a vigil in the neighborhood, and perhaps raise some money for the family.
“Hopefully bring awareness to the community — the neighborhood — for everybody to get involved.”
In 2015, The Washington Post reported that road rage was becoming more frequent and deadly. Specifically, the paper reported that between 2004 and 2015, the number of fatal road rage incidents had increased tenfold.