Drunken guest fires gun during a home gathering, shoots neighbor’s 7-year-old to death while sleeping

What should have been a weekend party gathering for three friends, ends up with murdering neighbor’s 7-year-old girl while she was sleeping in her bedroom. Three people, including the owner of the apartment, have been arrested and now face charges.

According to police report, the incident happened earlier this month when five people gathered at a home in one apartment complex. Police said the little girl was shot to death while she was sleeping in the neighboring apartment, when one of the suspects fired his gun and the bullet pierced the little girl’s bedroom wall.

Police arrested and charged three people including the owner of the Utah apartment identified as T. Pinter. Two of the guests, the 36-year-old C. Howells and 34-year-old C. O’Connell, were also arrested and charged in the incident, while two women who were present at the time of the shooting haven’t been charged.

Police believe O’Connell drunkenly fired the shot that killed the 7-year-old girl and he was kept in jail. The two other suspects were released on a bond. The women reportedly said that both Howells and O’Connell sexually assaulted them.

“The women … stated they observed Christopher [O’Connell] pull a firearm out and wave it around while intoxicated, they asked him to put it away,” states an affidavit obtained by Deseret News.

The little girl was identified as Z. Rodriguez and she was at home with her 6-year-old brother while their father was at work that night. Just after the shooting, the little boy video called his father saying he heard a loud noise and his sister was crying.

“She was asking for help, she was coughing blood on the floor,” said the father. “I told my boss I needed to leave because my daughter was bleeding from her mouth. That’s all I knew.”

As soon as he arrived home, the father took his daughter to the hospital himself and called 911 on the way there. Initially, Rodriguez’s father believed the girl might have fallen from the bed, but he was informed that his daughter has been shot shortly after the doctors at a local hospital took over the little girl.

“(Doctors) did everything they could, but they told me where the bullet hit her, there was nothing they could do,” Rodriguez said.

It remains unclear if there were other adults at their home when the shooting occurred. The family moved in Utah just less than a year ago, excited about the opportunity.

“I liked it so much — good job opportunities, schools for my kids. I wanted them to learn English,” Rodriguez said.

The shooter is facing multiple charges including felony murder; illegal discharge of a firearm; possession of a firearm by a restricted person and drug distribution; and sexual battery.

The owner of the apartment, T. Pinter, has been charged with obstructing justice, while the other suspect, C. Howells, faces sexual battery and obstructing justice charges.

Alex Tuhell

Co-founder and publisher

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