Phillips, who is either the girl’s father or stepfather, is charged with third-degree murder, involuntary manslaughter and endangering the welfare of a child.
Police say the girl was shot in the face Saturday afternoon at a home in the city’s Kensington neighborhood. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
Police previously said the girl was shot by her 5-year-old sibling and were searching for the child’s father or stepfather, who was believed to have owned the gun used. But Phillips turned himself in Saturday night and ultimately said he, not the other child, had been responsible, Sgt. Eric Gripp said Sunday.
“After investigation, (he) admitted to accidentally shooting the victim, and stated that the sibling had nothing to do with it,” Gripp said.
Neighbor Louise Sawyer said the girl’s mother had been quite protective, rarely letting her children out to play for fear of violence in a neighborhood in which shootings and drugs were a constant concern.
She would say, “No, I’m not bringing these kids out with this trouble,” Sawyer told The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Crystal Dougherty, a friend of the victim’s family, told CBS Philadelphia the girl was well-liked in the neighborhood.
“She was a great big sister to her little brother,” Dougherty said. “She was very smart, at four years old, she knows her alphabet, her colors.”
Doughtery said the victim’s family is close with people on the block.
“They are outgoing, they are supportive of others. They’re there for me when I was going through rough times, I mean it’s just, it’s, they’re there for everybody,” she said.