Phoenix police arrest suspect in death of teenage girl killed by stray bullet

Jun 28, 2021, 11:57 AM | Updated: 3:05 pm

Fernando Pina (Maricopa County Sheriff's Office Photo)...

Fernando Pina (Maricopa County Sheriff's Office Photo)

(Maricopa County Sheriff's Office Photo)

PHOENIX – Police have arrested a suspect in the shooting death of a 15-year-old girl who was hit by a stray bullet while she was inside her Phoenix home last week.

Officers responded to a shooting call near 48th Street and Broadway Road around 8:15 p.m. Friday and found Graciela Molina with a gunshot wound, according to the Phoenix Police Department. She died after being taken to a hospital.

Investigators identified Fernando Pina, 35, as a suspect through a tip from the public and forensic evidence. He was arrested Sunday night and booked on charges of manslaughter, endangerment and discharging a firearm within city limits, police said Monday.

“Detectives believe that he was recreationally shooting a firearm in close proximity to the Molina home when the bullet pierced her window and took her life,” Executive Assistant Chief Michael Kurtenbach said during a press conference. “We have forensic evidence that ties Pina to this crime.”

The fatal bullet hit Graciela’s upper body and was fired from more than 100 yards away, police said. She was in a second-floor bedroom with her father and a younger sibling at the time.

Investigators knocked on doors and canvassed the neighborhood in search of witnesses but had little to go by until getting a tip Sunday, Kurtenbach said.

“A courageous individual came forward and provided us with information that led to a break in this case,” he said. “And less than 40 hours after this senseless crime we were able to effect this arrest.”

Sgt. Andy Williams said there was no indication Pina was targeting the Molina home.

“By all accounts he was just an average person who made a bad decision,” he said.

Kurtenbach urged people not to fire off guns as a way to celebrate the Fourth of July.

“We know that we see lots of gunfire during this holiday,” he said. “And I’m imploring our community, please, please don’t shoot your guns anywhere other than where they are supposed to be fired.”

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Phoenix police arrest suspect in death of teenage girl killed by stray bullet