Family of slain Dallas 9-year-old girl now focused on safety and justice

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The family of the 9-year-old Dallas girl killed in a rapper feud is relieved the suspect turned himself in. But they’re still angry about the violence in their community.

Brandoniya Bennett had nothing to do with the man who shot into her apartment from a sidewalk Wednesday afternoon. She likely didn’t even know about the dispute he was having with her neighbor.

Dallas police said 19-year-old Tyrese Simmons turned himself in Thursday to face a capital murder charge for Brandoniya’s death. He is being held in the Dallas County jail on a $500,000 bond.

Brandoniya’s grandmother, Tonya Elder, said she can finally breathe knowing that he’s behind bars.

“Thank you, Jesus! That’s what went through my mind. Thank you, Jesus, because he had a heart because that was an innocent young baby,” Elder said.

According to an arrest warrant affidavit, Simmons “mistakenly fired at the wrong apartment unit after running around the building.”

One of the bullets “struck [Brandoniya] on her head causing her death,” the document states.

Witnesses told detectives that Simmons was involved in an ongoing feud with the girl’s next-door neighbor and fired into the wrong unit with that neighbor refused to come out and fight him.

Brandoniya was sitting in her living room – likely with no idea what was happening outside – when she was shot in the head.

Her cousin knows Simmons.

“It was confusing to me like how do you not know our back door. You’ve been in and out of our back door. How do you not know our back door?” Takayla Elder said.

Brandoniya was set to start school on Monday at Cesar Chavez Elementary. Her family said she loved to dance, as evident in cellphone video provided by the family.

Roseland Townhomes where the shooting took place is owned by the Dallas Housing Authority. Violent crime in the neighborhood had already prompted the agency to make security changes.

A spokeswoman said DHA continues to work with Dallas police to “put security measures in place to help better protect residents including surveillance cameras, security patrols and on-site programming for youth.”

Brandoniya’s grandmother is focused on justice.

“I fault that bullet. So that means I have to fault the hand that bullet came from,” she said.

A public vigil will be held for Brandoniya at Rosewood Townhomes at 7 p.m. Friday. Her family plans to do a balloon release.