CLAREMONT — A 16-year-old girl found dead inside a Bronx apartment with a gunshot wound to the head may have been playing with a gun that went off accidentally, police said.
Officers found Zion Willis, of Brownsville, inside a fourth-floor apartment at 306 E. 171st St. at about 6:14 p.m. Thursday. She had been visiting the apartment.
"We would never expect something like this to happen," said Willis' cousin Sara Gray, 22.
Police are searching for Dale Weston, 42, who's thought to be the owner of the gun and lives in the apartment where Willis was found, the NYPD said.
Family of Willis said they had never heard of Weston. Police said they don't think the two were in a relationship.
Weston was last seen inside his home at 6:06 p.m. and police described him as 6-foot-3 and weighing 190 pounds. He was last seen wearing a black jacket and blue jeans.
"He's a chill cat," said Chris Corchado, 23, who lives in the building. "I see him walking his dog all the time. I saw him yesterday morning actually."
Weston has been arrested 25 times. He was most recently arrested on Nov. 4, charged with marijuana possession, police said.
Family of Willis said she was an avid dancer, who was hoping to study it in college. She danced at Covenant Keepers Ministry on President Street in Crown Heights, and also did Tipico, a traditional Panamanian dance, family said.
"We just want to express our thanks for the gratitude people have extended us," Gray said. "Send prayers for our family."
Anyone with information in regards to this incident is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477).