Social media rivalry leads to fatal shooting of 9-year-old girl

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Tyrese Simmons (Left) and Brandoniya Bennett (Dallas P.D.) Tyrese Simmons (Left) and Brandoniya Bennett (Dallas P.D.)

A vengeful aspiring rapper opened fire on the wrong Dallas home last week, killing a 9-year-old girl instead of the rival artist he intended to shoot, police said.

Brandoniya Bennett had just gotten her nails done and was preparing for the first day of the school year on Wednesday when she was fatally shot in the head, according to police.

Dallas Police Major Danny Williams said the gunman fired shots through the girl's front door "as she sat on the couch" and fled the scene on foot. She was pronounced dead at the hospital.

"She was sitting in her house. She felt safe. She was 9 years old. She would've started school today," Williams said at a briefing on Thursday. "Those are the people that don't think about safety because -- as adults, as parents, as police officers -- we're supposed to make them safe. As community leaders, we're supposed to make them safe."

Tyrese Simmons, 19, surrendered to police on Thursday after a day-long manhunt and was charged with capital murder. Simmons and his intended target, a fellow aspiring rapper, had exchanged insults on social media ahead of the shooting, according to police.

"Both parties recorded rap songs and they dissed each other. That was the impetus that resulted in a homicide of a 9 year old girl," Williams said.

Police did not release the intended target's name, but they said he lived in the apartment next door to Brandoniya.

Witnesses said they broke up a fight between the two rivals moments before the shooting, but Simmons allegedly threatened to come back and "air out this place," Williams said.

"In their rap songs they dissed each other ... it got to the point where this group wanted to come over and solve it by fighting," he said. "There were some parents at the location and they made the kids leave, but before they left they said 'I'll be back to air out this place.' That's a common term saying that you're going to shoot into an apartment complex."

Police are still investigating the shooting and they have not ruled out the possibility of there being additional suspects.

Simmons was being held on a $500,000 bond as of Sunday evening. It's unclear if he has retained an attorney.

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