Report on killing of 4-year-old Suni Bell says child cried out for 'mommy' before she died
TAMPA, Fla. - Her last words were "mommy." Moments later, 4-year-old Suni Bell was killed when someone shot into the car where she was riding in the backseat.
A report released by the state attorney's office this week reveals new details about the night Suni’s life was cut short.
The report of more than 600 pages shows a complex investigation in which officers have relied heavily on surveillance video to put the pieces of this puzzle together.
It includes accounts from dozens of officers about what happened.
Family outing turns deadly
First, Suni's uncle was driving the car.
He told detectives they'd attended a remembrance party for a loved one and were on the way to another gathering. As they circled the neighborhood around Hillsborough Avenue, they passed a Chevron gas station near 47th Street, where a group of men was "loitering," according to the report.
Several men get into two separate cars. Those vehicles followed the one carrying Suni and her family. It can be seen pulling up next their car and the gunmen opening fire.
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Gunfire can be seen and heard on one of the surveillance videos. Roughly 40 bullet casings were found near the scene.
The report indicates Suni's uncle ran out of the car and eventually into officers. He fainted but came-to and told them what happened.
Suni's mother stayed in the vehicle with her little girl.
Investigators say Suni likely died in a matter of seconds.
No motive, yet
Attorney Anthony Rickman isn't connected to this case, but reviewed the report. He said it doesn't indicate a motive, but that's not necessary to prove guilt in a case like this.
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"Motive is not an element of first-degree murder. Everybody wants to know or ask ‘why?’ Well, right now we don't know why. What we do know is who," Rickman explained. "This was an ambush by two vehicles on each side, and the victim is a 4-year-old baby in the back of the car, yelling ‘mommy’ as her last words."
Suspects start to turn
In the days and weeks after Suni's death, her family made public pleas for anyone with information to come forward. Nearly $10,000 in reward money was also offered for tips leading to arrests in the case.
Nearly 40 days later, police arrested five men: Zvante Sampson, 30, Quandarious Hammond, 28, James Denson, 24, Jaylin Bedward, 22, and Andrew Thompson, 22.
They have all pleaded not guilty and, according to the report, some now point the finger at each other.
MORE: Justice for Suni Bell: 5 men arrested in connection with shooting death of 4-year-old Tampa girl
Anyone with information is asked to contact CrimeStoppers of Tampa Bay at 1-800-873-TIPS. Tips may remain anonymous and could be eligible for a cash reward.
*A previous version of this story stated Tampa police released the report. The story has been corrected to reflect the state attorney's office released the report.