9-year-old Saniyah Nicholson was sitting in her mother's car, with her older sister, Wednesday night waiting for her mother to return from picking up her brother at boxing practice when an argument broke out among two groups of men nearby. The argument between the men lead to an exchange in gunfire that left the city of Cleveland, Ohio in shock and disbelief.
When Saniyah's mother, Marshawnette Daniels, heard the gunshots, she rushed outside to her car and what she saw was will stay with her forever. A single stray bullet had pierced her car windshield and struck Saniyah in the forehead, killing her instantly.
In a telephone interview with Cleveland.com, Daniels said "I held my baby in my arms and she was already dead. I'm a nurse and I couldn't do anything for her. . ."It's going to be okay eventually," Daniels said. "But right now I just want my baby back. I want her. She was everything."
Saniyah's father, Robert Nicholson, works as a truck driver and had just spoken with his daughter a few moments prior to the shooting. Shortly after 7:30pm Daniels called him to tell him that their "baby" had been killed.
"I had to lay down for a second," Nicholson said. "Then I got in my car and I blew all the red lights until I got there."
Nicholson had belatedly celebrated Father's Day on Tuesday with a father-daughter dinner at Carrabba's Italian Grill in Brooklyn. They shared a booth and chatted over pasta and shrimp for Saniyah and pasta and chicken for dad.
She gave her dad a Father's Day gift, a dog-tag style necklace with her photo on the tag.
"I told her I'd hang it on my windshield when I'm driving my truck so I could see her every day," Nicholson said.
Nicholson said he and his daughter talked on the phone whenever they weren't together, including about a half hour before she was killed. She was always interested in what he was up to.
"I told her I was just getting ready to eat and go to bed because I have to wake up early for work," Nicholson said. "She told me to do what I needed to do and call her when I had a chance tomorrow. I didn't realize that was the last time I was going to hear by baby say 'I love you.'"
This is the absolute worst thing I can imagine for a parent to go through. The Cleveland Police Department has vowed to find those responsible for Saniyah's murder and seek justice. In the meantime, let's all keep this baby's family in our prayers.