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Birmingham police arrest suspect in 4-year-old's shooting death

Published: Sep. 27, 2016 at 3:22 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 27, 2016 at 7:46 PM CDT
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Source: Birmingham Police Department via Twitter
Source: Birmingham Police Department via Twitter
Rodriquez Ferguson. Source: Family
Rodriquez Ferguson. Source: Family
Rodriquez Ferguson. Source: Family
Rodriquez Ferguson. Source: Family

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Birmingham police have arrested a suspect in the shooting that killed a 4-year-old boy in Ensley on Sunday.

Police said Joseph Lewis, 27, is in custody for the murder of Rodriquez Ferguson, the child who police say was an innocent bystander caught in the crossfire.

Lewis, from Tarrant, is being held without bond in the Jefferson County Jail on a charge of murder.

The shooting took place in the 1600 block of 31st Street in Ensley. Police say the suspect was upset about an argument over a cellphone.

Investigators believe Rodriquez was caught in the crossfire when the suspect and another individual started exchanging shots.

The Jefferson County Coroner's Office said Ferguson died at Children's of Alabama.

In a news conference on Tuesday, Birmingham Police Chief A.C. Roper said this case was the department's highest priority since it happened on Sunday, Sept. 25.

Roper said they obtained a warrant for Lewis on Monday and arrested him on Tuesday at 10:55 a.m. He said they had help from the family and community in identifying Lewis as the suspect and tracking him down.

"It doesn't bring back this wonderful kid's life, but from my meeting with the family, they wanted this man arrested and they wanted him arrested as quickly as possible," Roper said in a news conference about the arrest on Tuesday afternoon.

Roper said they narrowed Lewis' location down to two places, knocked on a door and were met by profanity on Tuesday morning. They knocked again, heard more profanity, and kicked down the door to take Lewis into custody.

Roper said the Birmingham Crime Reduction Team arrested Lewis, who didn't resist. He was taken to the Birmingham Police Department's headquarters, where he is being questioned.

Roper said they don't anticipate making more arrests in the case, but they still have more work to do. He said they strongly believe they have the person responsible for shooting the 4-year-old in custody, and will continue to tie up loose ends.

Mayor William Bell said he's noticed the community is getting fed up with these types of shootings, and he's seeing more cooperation between the community and police.

"Our heart bleeds for this child that didn't have a chance to live. All they [children] wanna do is have fun and enjoy life and for this child to have lost his life over something stupid, a cell phone, that doesn't make sense at all. I hope people ask themselves, is it worth a child's life?" Bell said.

Roper agreed that they're seeing the community rise up and say "this is enough."

"Our thoughts and prayers are with this family and we want to minimize these types of incidents because here's a 4-year-old who lost his life through no fault of his own. A gun can't be the answer to every type of problem," Roper said.

Ferguson's grandmother witnessed the shooting. She said her grandson was playing o the front porch when it happened.

"He shot my baby in the head. He shot my baby in the head," the child's grandmother, Kuelhquisha Ferguson said on Monday, fighting back tears.

"I begged that man not to do nothing to those kids. He came waving that gun, waving his gun," she said.

"He killed my grandbaby. A grown man killed that boy," Ferguson added.

She describes the little boy as full of life, smart, and energetic. Now, all she has left are memories.

"I don't care what they do to him," Ferguson said about the suspect. "I told you to talk to me. You didn't want to talk to me, you took matters into your own hands. And you did that to him. And he was just a baby. Four years old. That ain't right."

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