Uncle charged with murder after 4-year-old girl shot, killed in DeKalb

Police arrested Levante Cummings, 27, on one count of second-degree child cruelty. Cummings' charge was later upgraded to second-degree murder.

Credit: DeKalb County Sheriff's Office

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Police arrested Levante Cummings, 27, on one count of second-degree child cruelty. Cummings' charge was later upgraded to second-degree murder.

Credit: DeKalb County Sheriff's Office

An East Point man first arrested on child cruelty charges will face an upgraded charge of murder after his 4-year-old niece was fatally shot Monday night in DeKalb County, officials said.

Officers responded to the Summit Hill apartments on Bouldercrest Road just before 10 p.m. for reports of a person shot, DeKalb police spokeswoman Michaela Vincent said. The girl, identified as Janiyah Jenkins, was suffering from a gunshot wound and was taken to the hospital by a family member.

She died Tuesday morning.

Police arrested Levante Cummings, 27, on one count of second-degree child cruelty, Vincent said. He was booked into the DeKalb County Jail overnight and remains there without bond, according to online records.

On Tuesday around noon, police said Cummings had also been charged with second-degree murder. According to Georgia law, the charge of second-degree child cruelty involves criminal negligence and can be upgraded to second-degree murder if the victim dies.

Police have not said who fired the deadly shot, but Jenkins’ mother told Channel 2 Action News the shooting was accidental. The mother, who asked not to be identified, said her daughter shot herself when Cummings, her brother, fell asleep and left his gun sitting out.

“My baby shot herself,” Jenkins’ mother said. “My brother did not shoot her.”

Police are continuing to investigate the case.

At least 11 other children have been shot in the Atlanta metro area within the first three months of the year. Five shot themselves or were shot by another child. Of the 11, eight have died.

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Jenkins is the second 4-year-old to be fatally shot in DeKalb in a little more than a month, according to police. In late February, Miyell Hernandez somehow got his hands on a gun in his mother’s car in the parking lot of a grocery store while she was inside shopping. Police believe he accidentally shot himself, and he died after being rushed to the hospital.

— Please return to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution for updates.