July 2, 2014 at 1:00 am

Cops suspect retaliation motive in killing of Inkster toddler

Andy Anderson of Detroit said he was visiting his grandchildren when he witnessed the incident Tuesday night. (David Coates / The Detroit News)

Inkster — In an act that happens too often in Metro Detroit, a man and 12-year-old girl were shot several times on the front porch of their apartment.

But it’s what occurred just before the Tuesday shooting that left even crime-weary residents shaking their heads.

The gunman walked up to the man’s 2-year-old daughter, playing nearby in the yard of Parkside Estates, and shot her in the head.

The man and 12-year-old survived. The toddler did not. Kamiyah French would have turned 3 next week.

“It’s beyond sad,” said Aaron Simms, a community activist. “People are just shooting because they don’t know how to do anything else.”

The gunman was taken into custody Wednesday morning, said Inkster Police Chief Hilton Napoleon. Police were seeking a second man.

The names of the two suspects weren’t released.

Napoleon said the attack may have been in retaliation for a shooting at an Inkster after-hours club in April. The suspect in the Tuesday shooting and the adult victim were present during the April incident, in which three people were injured.

In the Tuesday shooting, the 30-year-old father and 12-year-old girl were in stable condition, said Lt. Michael Shaw of the Michigan State Police.

The two are related but police didn’t say how. Their names weren’t released.

Kamiya’s mother, Erica Gross, told WDIV-TV she dropped off her daughter at the home Tuesday afternoon.

“My heart is broken. My heart is gone,” she said. “That was the best two years of my life, and it’s taken away from me.”

The incident began Tuesday night at 8:30 when a white van drove past the father’s apartment as he and the children sat outside.

A man clutching a handgun hopped out of the van several doors away and walked up to Kamiya as she played with another toddler, said witnesses.

The gunman shot Kamiya in the head and then began firing at her father and the 12-year-old on the front porch.

“It wasn’t random,” said witness Andy Anderson of Detroit. “He knew the target he wanted.”

In all, nine shots were fired, said witnesses. The gunman then walked back to the van, parked across the street from the father’s apartment, and hopped through its sliding door.

The shooting sent Anderson, who was visiting his grandkids, skittering under a parked car.

Simms said he planned to hold a vigil at the site of the shooting Thursday night at 8.

In the past year, he has tried to encourage residents to cooperate with police by distributing fliers that read: “I’m not a snitch. I’m a neighbor.”

Anyone with information is asked to call police at (877) 616-4677 or Crime Stoppers at (800) SPEAK-UP.

Balloons and a growing pile of stuffed animals on the steps of the apartment served as a makeshift memorial for the 2-year-old victim. Mail remained unopened in the crooked mailbox.

Earlier, as state police processed the scene, a pair of pink-and-black children’s shoes lay on the steps.

(313) 223-4186

Police were at the scene Wednesday morning trying to determine what ... (David Coates / The Detroit News)