Suspect in shooting death of Akron 4-year-old in custody

AKRON, Ohio - The US Marshal for Cleveland has told Fox 8 that the suspect in the shooting and killing of a four-year-old girl in Akron Friday night is in custody.

Darnell L. Bitting, 31, of Akron, faces charges of murder and weapons under disability.

The arrest came after authorities searched a vehicle owned by an associate of Bitting's on Saturday. They found 15 guns, a hand grenade and body armor in that vehicle. It was then that they were re-directed to a home in the 700 block of Corley Avenue, where Bitting was arrested. It is not known if there is a connection between the weapons and Bitting at this time. Marshals state that they were simply able to "tie it together" to find Bitting after entering the relative's home.

He was booked into the Summit County jail.

"May her soul rest in peace,” said Tika Graham, who didn’t know the victim or her family, but just felt moved to pay respects after the tragedy.

“I’ve got a four-year-old son— I couldn’t imagine what mom is going through. I couldn’t imagine; I can’t imagine,” she said.

U.S. Marshal Pete Elliott added, “This is a senseless and horrific crime that left an entire community grieving the loss of an innocent child. The guns that were taken off the streets today were a result of the team work between all the law enforcement agencies who responded after hearing of the murder of this innocent victim. These guns will no longer be a threat to the citizens of our community.”

This began Friday night when officers were called to a home in the 900 block of Mercer Avenue at around 10:30 p.m.

When they arrived, they found a 2008 Dodge Avenger with four female children, ages 7, 6, 4 and 3, inside the car with their grandmother.

Photo: Allison Brown, Fox 8

The children's mother told police that she pulled up in front of a house on Mercer Avenue. She got out of the car and approached the house to "retrieve some property." When no one answered the door, she broke out several windows.

That's when Bitting is accused of coming out of the house with a rifle. He then allegedly fired one shot, striking her car. The grandmother, who was in the passenger seat at the time, got into the driver's seat and drove the car down the street.

The 4-year-old girl was sitting in the back seat behind the driver's seat and was struck by the rifle round.

She was taken to the hospital but died.

Eddie Williams also brought balloons to the home on Mercer Avenue.

"Just a tragedy, a four-year-old getting hit by bullets,” he said. "Just paying my respects. I don't know the family; didn't know the baby, just here to pay respect."

Continuing coverage here.