ATHENS, Ala. - Limestone County deputies have one man in custody following the shooting death of a 5-year-old girl at a New Year's Eve party in Athens on Saturday night where alcohol was present.
Authorities said 34-year-old Fidel Rodriguez Canchola was firing shots into the ground just after midnight when the girl walked into his line of fire. Deputies claim Rodriguez and the girl did know each other.
"Rodriguez lives at that residence on Buckskin, the child and the child's family were visiting, they're all kind of family friends," Limestone County Sheriff's Office Public Information Officer Stephen Young said.
Sheriff Mike Blakely and Investigator Lance Royals found 34-year-old Fidel Rodriguez Canchola, the accused shooter, at his home at 7:20 a.m. on Sunday and took him into custody.
Deputies said the deadly incident happened at 12:06 a.m. on New Year's Day. They responded to a house on Buckskin Drive and found the girl with a gun shot wound. She was pronounced dead at Athens Hospital.
Deputies said a crowd of 25-30 people were at the residence for a New Year's Eve party. They said no one in the group claimed they saw or heard anything except gun shots coming from down the street. Investigators found several .22 caliber shell casings at the scene. They said Rodriguez fled the scene afterwards, leaving behind the weapon. Deputies said someone threw the revolver over a fence and into a pasture. It's been recovered and taken as evidence.
"There's no reason to believe that there's anything intentional," Young said. "Apparently it happened right at midnight. Unfortunately, it is common for people who are celebrating New Year's Eve fire into the air, fire into the ground, a lot of times they don't think about the possible consequences."
Rodriguez has been charged with Criminally Negligent Homicide, a Class A misdemeanor. He is being held in the Limestone County Jail on a $5,000 bond.