Police in Cincinnati, Ohio say a mother and her boyfriend lied about the circumstances surrounding the shooting of her 3-year-old daughter. Doctors say the little girl, L’eah Johnson, is in critical but stable condition at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital where she is recovering from a gunshot that entered through her buttocks and exited through her abdomen last Tuesday.
Police responded to 911 calls from both the child’s mother, Ebony McDavis, and neighbors, in the early morning hours of last Tuesday. McDavis allegedly first told police that her daughter had been shot while being carried by her boyfriend Cordero Warren on a trip to take their garbage outside. At the time this seemed plausible as, in an unfortunate coincidence, some of McDavis’s neighbors were shooting guns into the air behind her home at approximately the same time her daughter was shot.
A manhunt ensued for those responsible for the shooting and at one point a $2,000 reward was being offered for information leading to an arrest. Six people were arrested during the course of the initial investigation which involved a police SWAT team and as many as 16 to 20 police officers working on the case.
Further investigation has revealed, however, that the child was almost certainly shot inside a bedroom in her mother’s apartment. According to police investigators, McDavis has admitted that she and her boyfriend lied about her toddler daughter having been shot outside. Police say that they suspected McDavis of lying from the start and are still trying to determine just how exactly the shooting occurred.
McDavis has been arrested and arraigned on misdemeanor charges of falsification, while Warren has been charged with tampering with evidence and possession of weapons while under disability, both felonies. Warren is not permitted to possess firearms due to a prior felony conviction.
At his court appearance, Warren’s counsel presented a new explanation as to how the toddler was shot. He said that she was playing with the gun on the floor underneath her mother’s bed and accidentally shot herself. He also insisted that the gun was not Warren’s and that neither Warren nor McDavis actually witnessed the shooting.
In the days following the shooting local police have made donations to purchase Christmas gifts for the injured toddler as she remains hospitalized.
The toddler was shot in the Cincinnati neighborhood of Avondale. Avondale, like many inner-city neighborhoods, has been long plagued by violence and L’eah Johnson is the second child within the course of a single year to be shot and hospitalized there. The previous victim, a 4-year-old boy, was caught in the crossfire of a shootout but has since recovered fully from his injuries.
Just a few days prior to the shooting of L’eah Johnson, a 19-year-old man was shot in the neighborhood as well. He has since died as a result of his injuries. Witnesses to that crime report that a car pulled up near the man, rolled its windows down and fired multiple shots. Police investigation is still ongoing in that case.
Although it now appears that L’eah Johnson was not a victim of an act of random violence as her mother’s lies initially led Cincinnati, Ohio police to believe, the shooting of this toddler also appears to be a part of a bigger story of tragedy for the crime-ridden neighborhood of Avondale.
By Michele Wessel