A 3-year-old girl was shot in the midsection Tuesday night in Ridge after a murder suspect fired a gun into her family's apartment. Body camera footage released by the police shows the girl being rushed by officers to the emergency room. NewsdayTV's Shari Einhorn reports. Credit: Newsday/James Carbone; Anthony Florio; Suffolk County Police Department; Photo Credit: James Toney

This story was reported by John Asbury, Robert Brodsky, Matthew Chayes, Michael O’Keeffe and Grant Parpan. It was written by O'Keeffe and Parpan.

Suffolk Police shared dramatic body camera video of an anguished father pleading for help in Ridge Tuesday night after his 3-year-old daughter was allegedly shot by a homicide suspect next door who had fired on investigating detectives.

The bullet pierced a wall shared by the two apartments and struck the little girl, Lovely Toney, in the abdomen. She remained hospitalized Wednesday but was expected to recover, said her father, James Toney, 35. Police said neither of the two detectives was injured after the suspect, Gary Jones, 38, of North Amityville, fired multiple rounds. He later died by suicide, according to police.

On one of two police body camera videos released Wednesday, James Toney is seen on his knees, clutching his bloodstained three-year-old daughter as officers approach. 

“Please, my daughter, man!” a horrified Toney yells out to the officers.

What to know

  • Suffolk Police shared dramatic body camera video of a father pleading for help in Ridge Tuesday night after his 3-year-old daughter was allegedly shot by a homicide suspect.
  • The alleged shooter, Gary Jones, 38, of North Amityville, later died by suicide, according to police.
  • Three-year-old Lovely Toney, shot in the abdomen, remained hospitalized Wednesday but was expected to recover, her father said.

“My three-year-old daughter, man!” he repeats several times as the child cries and a woman is heard wailing in the background. The gunshot wound to the child's abdomen is clearly visible at one point in the video.

Another video shows a Suffolk police officer carrying the injured child into the emergency room at Peconic Bay Medical Center, shouting for assistance. Lovely can be seen looking over the officer's shoulder, wide-eyed and apparently conscious.

Suffolk Police Commissioner Rodney Harrison credited Det. Luis Cabrera of the homicide unit and Officer Cristian Hernandez of the Seventh Precinct with saving the child’s life. Harrison said Lovely, who was later transported to Cohen’s Children’s Medical Center in Queens, was in stable condition and is expected to make a full recovery.

“I have a grandson that is three years old,” Harrison said during a news conference in Yaphank on Wednesday. “I can’t imagine going through that same situation, being out there and seeing that baby, a victim of a gunshot wound, the trauma that must have put in this family. But I will say this: Thank God for the men and women of this department.”

Suffolk homicide detectives Tuesday had been searching for Jones, a suspect in the fatal shooting of his girlfriend, Shayna Staton. Police doing a wellness check June 19 at Staton's home on Hawthorne Avenue in Central Islip found her with a fatal gunshot wound. During their investigation into Staton’s death, detectives received multiple leads identifying Jones as a suspect, police said.

Three domestic incidents had been reported at the home, Suffolk Police Chief of Detectives John Rowan said, although no arrests were made and no orders of protection were ordered. Jones had several prior arrests in Suffolk, Nassau and New York City for robbery, felony drug possessions and grand larceny auto, Rowan said.

On Tuesday night, two Suffolk homicide detectives were interviewing a friend of Jones, who lives in an apartment adjacent to the one Lovely shares with her father and other family members, Harrison said. When they learned Jones was at the residence, the police commissioner added, authorities evacuated residents from the apartment building, called for backup and surrounded it.

"The two detectives then proceeded into that location and attempted to gain contact with Mr. Jones and place him under arrest," Harrison said. “Mr. Jones’ silhouette was observed by one of the detectives, raising his hand and holding a firearm. Jones immediately began firing multiple shots at our detectives.”

One of the bullets pierced the shared wall and hit Lovely, who had just taken a bath and was sitting on a couch, waiting for French fries. The bullet shattered Lovely’s hand, went through her abdomen and exited out her back after hitting her liver, Toney said. The child was undergoing CAT scans Wednesday for additional bullet fragments

Lovely is expected to have additional surgeries Friday to close the gunshot wounds, Toney said.

"She was just minding her business playing in her home and unfortunately a gentleman on the run for murder, fired a bullet and the bullet came through the wall," Toney said Wednesday outside Cohen Children's Medical Center. "I have to be strong for my daughter. She's alive. She can live a healthy life and continue to be the great young kid that she is."

Toney said his daughter whimpered softly as he rushed her out of the apartment.

“I scooped her up, brought her outside to the officers on scene and I stumbled right into you know, some angels,” Toney said. “And they put my daughter in a squad car … it was a blessing."

Harrison said Seventh Precinct Officer Cristian Hernandez, on the job for just 18 months, drove the patrol vehicle while Det. Luis Cabrera provided aid to Lovely. Harrison said the cops’ quick thinking saved the girl’s life.

“If not for the quick actions of Police Officer Cristian Hernandez of the Seventh Precinct and Det. Luis Cabrera from the Homicide Squad, this incident could have finished with a horrific tragedy,” Harrison said.

At the scene, the Suffolk police hostage negotiation team tried to contact Jones but were unsuccessful. Emergency Services used a robot armed with a camera to enter the apartment. They determined that Jones had shot himself in the head and was dead, police said.

A 9-mm handgun was recovered near Jones’ body, the same caliber gun used in Staton’s death, officials said.

Toney described his daughter as a rambunctious little girl who liked to jump off furniture and loves Cocomelon and Peppa Pig cartoons.

"She's a very tough young lady,” he said.

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