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Arrests made in killing of 7-year-old Baltimore girl Taylor Hayes

Keon Gray was arrested on first-degree murder charges for allegedly firing into a vehicle and killing 7-year-old Taylor Hayes last month. (Jerry Jackson/Baltimore Sun video)

A 29-year-old man has been taken into custody on first-degree murder charges for allegedly firing into a vehicle and killing 7-year-old Taylor Hayes last month, Baltimore police and prosecutors announced Friday.

Keon Gray was arrested at a motel in Anne Arundel County, near BWI Marshall Airport, officials said. Earlier in the week, authorities also charged his girlfriend, Daneka McDonald, 33, with accessory after the fact and obstruction charges.

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Interim Police Commissioner Gary Tuggle said the charges were “a long time coming” and praised the investigative work on the case. Deputy State’s Attorney Michael Schatzow cited “very diligent and effective teamwork” between police and prosecutors.

A possible motive was not disclosed, nor did authorities discuss what led them to the suspects. Taylor was shot July 5 while riding through Southwest Baltimore in the back seat of a car. She struggled for two weeks before dying July 19.

Shanika Robinson, Taylor’s mother, briefly addressed the media, saying she hoped the case would serve as a wake-up call for the community.

“It’s crazy that I’m here. I don’t have my 7-year-old daughter anymore,” Robinson said. “I think this should be something big. All the killing’s got to stop. It has to. … We have to come together.”

“It won’t bring Taylor back, but at least we’re about to get some type of justice,” said Ebony Ward, the girl’s aunt.

Police previously charged Darnell Holmes, 33, who was driving the car Taylor was riding in, and Holmes’ boyfriend, Mallik Edison, 20, who investigators say was in the passenger seat. Both were charged with drug- and gun-related crimes unrelated to Taylor’s shooting.

They were charged after officers searched their car and recovered a loaded gun, a digital scale and heroin from the glove box.

Police said surveillance video shows the car stopping along Edmondson Avenue. The documents say Edison can be seen in video footage running to a police officer in the area, then running to an ambulance.

Holmes’ daughter, who was also riding in the car when the shooting occurred, was uninjured.

Police have accused Holmes of not cooperating with investigators — and giving a false statement about whether Edison was with her in the car when the shooting occurred. Police say she told them she was on her way to pick up Edison and that he “randomly appeared” in the area after the shooting, according to charging documents.

But surveillance video shows Edison was in the car during the shooting, charging documents state. Additionally, Holmes referred to “the four of us” in a conversation with an officer at the scene — captured on body camera footage, the documents said.

Attorneys for both Holmes and Edison say their clients sought help for the little girl after the shooting.

Court records show Gray has a long prior record of facing charges, though his last conviction appears to have been in 2012, when he was charged with attempted first-degree murder and pleaded guilty to first-degree assault. He received a sentence of 15 years, with all but about seven months suspended.

Creston Smith, a defense attorney who has represented Gray in many of his prior cases, declined to comment Friday afternoon. No attorney was listed for McDonald in court records.

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