7-Year-Old Michigan Girl Shot to Death After Soccer Practice

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A 7-year-old Michigan girl was shot to death and her mother is in serious condition after a shooting in Taylor, which is located southwest of Detroit, Michigan, on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2015. The incident took place in the parking lot of the Taylor Sportsplex on Telegraph Road, where Emma Watson Nowling had just finished soccer practice. The shooter, Timothy Nelson Obeshaw, also shot Sharon Elizabeth Watson, 37, with a 9mm pistol before turning the gun on himself and delivering a fatal wound. Obeshaw is described by authorities as a friend of the pair, and a man whose family had noticed signs of increasing mental instability within the past year.

Obeshaw, 57, had previously lived in Belleville, Michigan, in an apartment behind the home of Watson and her boyfriend, but had moved to Taylor within the past few months. The Taylor Police Department has released that they discovered evidence on Obeshaw to indicate “[he] believed someone was trying to perform mind control on him.” Obeshaw’s family also told police that he suffered from mental illness and that during the past year, he had become “paranoid.” A definitive motive for the shooting has yet to be determined, but the police have recovered the gun used, which was purchased legally by Obeshaw, who had never been officially diagnosed with a mental illness.

A police department press release said that prior to the start of practice, Watson, Emma, and Obeshaw had “what appeared to be friendly interaction.” Mario Scicluna was Emma’s soccer coach. He watched during practice on Thursday as the little girl stopped and said hello to a man who was walking along the sideline. “Little Emma went up and gave the guy a hug,” he said. According to Scicluna, the shooter had attended some of Emma’s practices and games before Thursday. He estimates that Obeshaw arrived at approximately 6:15 p.m. Practice began at 6:30 p.m. and continued with no signs from the threesome that anything was wrong.

After practice, which wound up just prior to 8 p.m., Emma and Watson got into their vehicle to leave the Sportsplex. As they sat inside, Obeshaw shot them both and then fatally shot himself with the handgun, which he had registered in September in Belleville, Michigan. Emma died late Thursday night. Her mother remains in stable condition.

Scicluna became aware that something bad had happened when he saw the police lights flashing, as well as “the panicked look on some of the parents running the other way.” He estimated there were approximately 40 youngsters practicing on Thursday night. He added that “a lot of the families are in shock and were traumatized” by the events which unfolded on Thursday, in which a 7-year-old Michigan girl was shot to death after soccer practice.

Emma played soccer for the Waza F.C. club and had been coached by Scicluna for the last two months or so. He described the little girl as always having a smile on her face, saying she was “fun” and “excited.” He said she had improved her soccer skills quickly and was very enthusiastic about playing the game. “She had a bright future ahead of her,” he said.

A GoFundMe page has been started in order to raise funds to help Emma’s family. In addition, the little girl will be honored with a moment of silence during this weekend’s soccer games. Taylor Police Chief Mary Sclabassi told NBC News, “Unfortunately, this man’s apparent mental illness led to a little girl who just wanted to play soccer never going home again.”

Watson’s mother, Pam Watson, spoke to WXYZ regarding her daughter. She said that Sharon Watson has been told that her daughter was killed, and responded to the news by saying, “I can’t talk about it now, Mom. I know my baby is gone.” To date, Emma’s GoFundMe page has raised $10,460 to help the family of the 7-year-old Michigan girl who was shot to death by a family friend after soccer practice on Thursday.

By Jennifer Pfalz

Detroit Free Press: Man hugged girl, 7, at soccer practice, then killed her
NBC News: Girl, 7, Shot Dead by ‘Paranoid’ Family Friend in Taylor, Michigan
AOL.com: Police say Michigan girl shot and killed by a family friend
GoFundMe: Emma Watson-Nowling

Image Courtesy of Facebook