Police on 9-year-old's murder: 'We believe there are others involved in this'

Police arrested 2 suspects Wednesday
Posted at 2:43 PM, Jan 11, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-11 17:37:05-05

CINCINNATI -- Though police have arrested two suspects in the shooting death of a 9-year-old girl, they believe more people may have played a role in her death. 

Police arrested Azuriah Hoskins Jr., 18, and Ke’von Smith, 19, Wednesday, nearly a year after her death. Both face murder charges.

In a Thursday news conference, Lt. Col. Michael John said police "believe there are others involved" in the girl's murder.

Azuriah Hoskins Jr., 18 (left), and Ke’von Smith, 19 (right), both face murder charges in connection to the 2017 death of 9-year-old Alexandrea Thompson.

On Jan. 18, 2017, armed men entered the family's Mount Auburn home and began to shoot. The bullets passed through Thompson's father and into her. Her father survived, but Alexandrea did not. Police initially thought four suspects were involved in the shooting, John said. 

John said it would be highly unusual that Alexandrea was targeted in the shooting, but the incident was not “a random act of violence by any stretch of the imagination.”

“A 9-year-old victim, it shocks you to the core … there’s no other way of really putting that," John said. "This happened during daylight hours, there were kids playing on the street on scooters when this happened. This is just something that's very hard to imagine." 

Alexandrea, whom teacher Claudia Ehrle described as an "exceptional student" with an infectious smile, would have turned 11 this April.

A judge set a $2 million bond for Smith Thursday morning. Hoskins appeared in juvenile court briefly Thursday afternoon. He was 17 at the time of the shooting. There will be a hearing Jan. 25 to decide if he will be tried as an adult.

John said the criminal history of the pair is not extensive because they are teenagers. 

“These are not two individuals we knew a lot about before this investigation,” John said. 

John praised the support of the community, saying rallies, prayer vigils and benefits only helped draw attention to the case. 

"Obviously, the community was shaken," John said. "They felt it was important to go out to show their support for the family -- to establish a foundation that this is not normal, this is not right and this shouldn't be accepted." 

Mitch Morris has been outspoken about the case since Alexandrea’s death and has led rallies and vigils to advocate against gun violence in the city. 

The arrest of two suspects has brought some relief to the community, Morris said. 

“This tragedy hurt a lot of people in the community and a lot of people did a lot of work, Cincinnati police, community activists, different organizations -- everybody was out here trying to find out what happened to this baby girl,” Morris said.