Second suspect arrested in murder of 2-year-old girl allegedly confesses to shooting toddler in the head with AK-47

Philadelphia police named a second suspect they have in custody for the weekend shooting death of a 2-year-old girl and the wounding of her mother and a man who was cleaning carpets, and, sources have told 6ABC, that man has confessed to pulling the trigger.

Nikolette Rivera was struck once in the head and pronounced dead at the scene. Her 24-year-old mother was shot in the side of the head and the back, and the 33-year-old carpet cleaner was hit in the stomach. Both are expected to survive.

Earlier this week, police arrested Freddie Perez, charging him with murder, nine counts of attempted murder, and two counts of conspiracy to commit murder, as CrimeOnline reported earlier. On Wednesday, they said they’d taken a second man into custody but had not yet charged him.

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Acting Police Commissioner Christine Coulter said on Thursday that second suspect has now been charged with murder. She identified him as Tavon Thomas, in his late 20s, and said investigators believe he was the trigger man, NBC Philadelphia reported. Thomas was initially arrested on an unrelated charge.

Detectives believe Perez and Thomas were involved in a drug dispute with the little girl’s father and mistook the carpet cleaner for their intended target. They believe Thomas opened fire from the street outside, shooting “indiscriminately” with an AK-47 and hitting Nikolette, the mother, and the contractor, Coulter said. The father was not home at the time.

Coulter said tips from the community and surveillance video led investigators to the suspects.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that we have the right people,” she said.

Outside the home of the victim’s family, in front of a memorial for little Nikolette, is a large, hand-drawn sign that reads, “Thank you for speaking up.”

Police also announced on Thursday they have a suspect in custody in connection with the shooting of 11-month-old Yaseem Jenkins, who was shot while riding in a vehicle less than 24 hours before the shooting that killed Nikolette Rivera. The little boy is listed in extremely critical condition after behind shot in the back of the head, the chest, and the buttocks.

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[Featured image: Nikolette Rivera/WCAU]