7-year-old shot while riding in a car out Christmas shopping in Buckhead dies

ATLANTA — A 7-year-old who was shot in the head while she riding in a car near Phipps Plaza out shopping with family last week has died.

The Fulton County Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed to Channel 2′s Michael Seiden that Kennedy Maxie died Saturday night.

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Maxie was in a car with her aunt when gunshots rang out on Dec. 21. Kennedy’s aunt says she didn’t realize her niece had been hit until a few miles later when she noticed she wasn’t feeling well in the back seat. She rushed her to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite.

Kennedy was a student at Sedalia Park Elementary School in Cobb County.

Kennedy’s community has set up a GoFundMe for her family that has raised nearly $50,000.

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Police say the little girl was likely hit by a stray bullet during a confrontation between two groups of men in the Phipps Plaza parking lot.

“We do know that there was a dispute involving multiple males in the parking lot of Saks Fifth Avenue. We don’t know if that dispute led to the shooting. We have security camera video and we are recovering and going through that video,” Atlanta Police Homicide Detective Peter Malecki said last week.

Police are reviewing surveillance video, but so far haven’t released a description of potential suspects.

Leaders and people who live in the area say the shooting is just another example of the crime running rampant in Buckhead recently.

Atlanta Interim Police Chief Rodney Bryant agrees. Kennedy’s death is the 15th homicide in Atlanta of 2020, making this the deadliest year in the city since 1998.

“The level of gun violence we are seeing is really concerning to law enforcement as a whole,” Bryant said. “I continue to have conversations with chiefs across the country on how we can combat this.”

Several elected officials from Atlanta have pointed fingers at city hall -- and to some extent at Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms -- about the ride in violence and crime in the area.

Seiden reached out to the Mayor’s Office on Sunday afternoon and received this statement:

“Our hearts are broken by the senseless murder of Kennedy. While the Atlanta Police Department has significant leads in the apprehension of those responsible, it does not erase the pain felt when a beautiful, vibrant, and loving child is tragically taken from her family,” Bottoms said in a statement. “We urge the public to continue to provide information that will lead to the arrests of the careless and heartless people responsible for Kennedy’s death.”