Selietha Parker and her daughter Alexis Goggins. (Family photo)
DETROIT -- A 7-year-old-girl is being hailed as an "angel from heaven" and a hero for jumping in front of an enraged gunman, who pumped six bullets into the child as she used her body as a shield to save her mother's life.
Alexis Goggins, a first-grader at Campbell Elementary School, is in stable condition at Children's Hospital in Detroit recovering from gunshot wounds to the eye, left temple, chin, cheek, chest and right arm.
"She is an angel from heaven," said Aisha Ford, a family friend for 15 years who also was caught up in the evening of terror.
The girl's mother, Selietha Parker, 30, was shot in the left side of her head and her bicep by a former boyfriend, who police said was trying to kill Parker. The gunman was disarmed by police and arrested at the scene of the shooting, a Detroit gas station. Police identified him as Calvin Tillie, 29, a four-time convicted felon whom Parker had dated for six months.
Parker, who was treated and released at Detroit Receiving Hospital, is now at her daughter's bedside. She declined to comment Tuesday.
The drama began to unfold just before midnight Saturday, when Parker called Ford and asked if she and Alexis could spend the night at Ford's home.
"She said she had no heat and they were very cold, and I said , sure I'll come and get you," Ford said.
Ford said she drove her burgundy 1998 Ford Expedition to Parker's home on Dwyer. She said as Parker and Alexis walked up to her vehicle she saw a man on the porch, who she assumed was a furnace repairman. She said Alexis, who walks with a limp, slipped momentarily on the icy sidewalk and as she helped the girl up, she saw the man and recognized him as Tillie. He was holding a gun.
Tillie ordered them into the vehicle, cursed at the women and angrily told Ford to drive him to Six Mile Road, she said.
"He looked like he was enraged and didn't care what he did. I knew if we went to Six Mile, he would kill us," Ford said. Instead, she told him she needed gas and drove to the Fast Stop Gas station in the 5000 block of East Seven Mile Road, a station that requires customers to pay the attendant inside.
"I figured if he got out to pump the gas, I was going to take off," Ford said.
Instead, Tillie gave her $10 and told her put in $5 worth of gas.
Ford said she dialed 911 on her cell phone as she walked into the station.
"The first operator clicked off and I dialed again and told that operator a guy with a gun was holding me hostage with a mother and baby and threatening to kill us. I told her the name of the gas station and then she said they didn't have a unit to send."
Ford said she paid for $5 of gas and slowly returned to the vehicle, stalling for time as she handed Tillie the change. She said she kept stopping and starting the pump, hoping the police would show up.
"I told him I needed more gas and took money out of my purse and went back into the station," she said. The attendant, Mohammad Alghazali, 30, said he noticed Ford was crying and she told him what was happening. He called 911 as he heard shots coming from the vehicle.
"It was very scary. She (Ford) was scared and screaming when the guy was shooting. I was scared, too. I was on the phone talking to the police when he started shooting," he said
Parker told police that Tillie said Ford was taking too long
She said she pleaded with him but he pointed the gun at her and shot her in the side of the head. She told police she was shot in the arm as she lunged at Tillie.
Before Tillie could fire again, Alexis jumped over the seat between her mother and the gunman and begged him not to shoot her mother.
The police report said Tillie "without hesitation" pumped six shots into the child.
As police arrived, they saw Parker, covered in blood, running from the truck, screaming, "He just shot my baby."
The officers said Tillie came out to the vehicle holding a blue steel 9 mm semi automatic and dropped the weapon when ordered to do so. Officers said they found Alexis huddled on the floor under the steering wheel, covered in blood, surrounded by spent cartridge casings, a spent bullet on the floor and teeth on the seat. There were bullet holes in the windshield and blood inside.
Alghazali said a police car on a street nearby arrived in less than a minute after his call.
Marvin Bodley, a Detroit Public Schools attendance agent, spent two days at Alexis' hospital bedside and said it's miraculous that she's alive.
"What a courageous, courageous little girl," he said. "You see more bandages than child," he said. "It's a horrific sight."
Bodley said Alexis receives special education services at school, in part because of a weak left eye, which is the result of a massive stroke she suffered as an infant.
Ford said doctors at the time had predicted that when Alexis got older she would have trouble with tasks such as writing, but she is now able to write her name.
"She is a good little girl who is very protective of her mother," said Tonya Colbert, Parker's cousin.
Tillie is being held in the Wayne County Jail facing kidnapping, assault with intent to murder, child abuse, felony firearms and habitual criminal charges.
A preliminary examination is scheduled for Dec. 13.