Atlanta dad shares warning after 7-year-old daughter killed in crossfire

7-year-old girl killed in crossfire
Published: Aug. 29, 2022 at 6:46 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) - An Atlanta father issued a plea for help and warning to parents after a powerful daddy-daughter bond was shattered by gunfire.

Seven-year-old Ava Phillips was caught in the crossfire and killed at Camden Vantage Apartments in Atlanta’s Old Fourth Ward neighborhood.

Her father, Jonathan Phillips, said Ava was polite, beautiful, and “could do it all.”

“Ava was everything I ever wanted in a little girl,” said Phillips. “Looked just like me, full of life – she’s the youngest, but she called all the shots.”

Phillips said he dropped off Ava with her mother for a quick weekend stay. Saturday around 10 p.m. he received a devastating phone call that Ava had been shot in the head and killed.

EARLIER STORY: 1 arrested, 1 wanted in connection to shooting death of 7-year-old in Atlanta

Monday, police arrested Kemeka Springfield, who Phillips said is Ava’s mother. Springfield faces charges of aggravated assault and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony.

Springfield waived her first court appearance hours after her arrest.

Monday afternoon, police continued to search for 23-year-old Deshon Collins, believed to be the person who fired the shot that killed Ava. Authorities said the gunshots stemmed from a domestic dispute.

Phillips said he never met Collins personally, but believed he was in a relationship with another family member at the gathering.

A candlelight vigil is planned for Ava on Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Camden Vantage Apartments. Phillips has set up a GoFundMe to help with funeral expenses.

“A lot of people love her. A lot of people miss her already,” said Phillips. “She’s my baby - I just want to let her go out with a bang, let her know we love her.”

Ava was a second-grade student at Bouie Elementary. She loved the window seat on airplanes and playing ball with her brothers.

She leaves behind a large family – including six siblings.

As Phillips and his family band together in grief, he issued a warning to other parents in Atlanta.

“Love your children. Be safe, protect them,” he said. “You never know the last time you’re going to see them. Mine was supposed to be gone for the weekend, and here we are.”

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