4 charged in slaying of 10-year-old girl in Washington County apartment
A Washington County man was one of four people charged on Friday in the fatal shooting of a 10-year-old girl during a home invasion. She was his distant cousin.
Malik Thomas, 20, and the others were charged with homicide, robbery, burglary, conspiracy and related charges in Monday's slaying of Taniyah Thomas at her family's apartment in the city of Washington, police Detective Lt. Daniel Stanek announced at an evening news conference.
Also charged are Anthian Goehring, 28; Richard White, 18; and Douglas Cochran Jr., 18, Stanek said. All of the men live in Washington.
“They thought the occupants (of the apartment) had money,” Stanek said in explaining what police believe prompted the shooting.
Thomas and Cochran were arrested at the Washington County Correctional Facility, where they have been held on unrelated drug charges since Wednesday, Stanek said. Goehring and White were arrested at their homes, he said.
The fourth-grader was shot in the head after the gunman and a possible accomplice kicked in the entry door of the apartment building on West Chestnut Street at 3:50 a.m., climbed a flight of stairs and began shooting through a closed door, police said.
No one knocked on the door before at least four shots were fired through the solid wooden door, police said.
“Everybody was asleep when this started,” Stanek said this week. “But I believe they targeted this residence.”
“We think she got up out of bed and was wandering through the apartment, maybe to her mom's room,” he said.
When asked why the robbers began shooting through the closed door, Stanek replied, “They felt they could get into the apartment that way.”
The detective said police are still trying to determine how many of the accused had guns and who may have fired the fatal shot.
Taniyah shared the apartment with her mother, Shantye Brown, 34; her mother's boyfriend, Robert Lester, 26, and the couple's infant, police said.
“The little girl was a distant cousin of Malik,” Stanek said.
Brown is awaiting a preliminary hearing scheduled April 24 on charges of possession and distribution of crack cocaine, court records show. Lester was convicted in August of possession with intent to deliver crack cocaine, according to court records.
Stanek said Brown has cooperated with police. Investigators have not been able to find Lester since they talked to him immediately after the shooting, Stanek said.
News of the arrests spread to the funeral home where visitation was being held for Taniyah, a student at Washington Park Elementary School.
A number of friends and family members, some of them distraught, left there to gather outside the police station.
“They killed my baby. They killed my 10-year-old daughter for nothing,” Curtis Thomas said.
When asked what he would say to the four, Thomas replied: “You took my daughter. You took my world. You took everything from me.”
Michael Hasch is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7820 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Staff writer Brian Bowling contributed to this report.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Penguins notebook: Martin not concerned about expiring contract
- Steelers’ Roethlisberger hurting after big hit
- Police: Barracks ambush suspect sought mass murder
- Southmoreland student injured in school assault
- Auditor General to expand Education audit to include Tomalis
- State awards six Western Pennsylvania schools mentoring grants
- E-68 respiratory virus identified in Pennsylvania
- Former Pirates pitcher Tekulve doing well after heart transplant
- Pirates notebook: Hurdle quiet on rotation plans
- Pennsylvania fiscal officers say budget in dire situation
- Improved economy drives first decline in the national poverty rate in 7 years