4 arrested in Washington girl’s shooting death

Photo of Kathie Warco
by Kathie Warco
Staff Writer
Photo courtesy of WPXI
Ta’Niyah Thomas

Four men including one who is reportedly a distant cousin of the victim were arrested Friday night in the shooting death of a 10-year-old girl inside her Washington home early Monday.

Anthian Goehring, 28, Douglas Cochran Jr., 18, Malik Thomas, 20, and Richard White, 18, all of Washington, were arraigned before District Judge Robert Redlinger on charges of criminal homicide, robbery, theft and burglary. Goehring is also charged with discharge of a firearm into an occupied structure, person not to possess a firearm and reckless endangerment.

Cochran also was charged with reckless endangerment.

Robbery was the apparent motive into the shooting that resulted in the death of Ta’Niyah Thomas inside the West End apartment she shared with her mother, Shantye Brown, her mother’s boyfriend, Robert Lester, and a 10-month-old infant.

“They targeted the residence,” Stanek said. “They thought the occupants had money.”

Stanek would not speculate if drugs were a factor.

Police said all four men arrived at the apartment building at 450 W. Chestnut St. in one vehicle. Police allege Goehring and Cochran kicked in the main door of the apartment building, approached the second floor apartment and fired multiple shots through the door.

The girl was asleep at 3:50 a.m. Monday when the shots were fired. Ta’Niyah apparently heard the gunfire and ran from her bedroom to get her mother when she was hit by two bullets. The fourth-grade student at Washington Park Elementary School was pronounced dead a short time later at Washington Hospital of a gunshot wound to the head.

Hundreds rallied Wednesday night calling for justice in the girl’s death, while investigators worked round-the-clock since the shooting.

“We had people giving us information,” Stanek said. “We were able to pull some video surveillance showing where some of the people were.”

Ta’Niyah’s father, Curtis Thomas, said at least two of the suspects called him in the days following the shooting to assure him they were not involved.

“I think they should get what my daughter got,” said Thomas. “I will dedicate my life to seeing that my daughter is never forgotten, and I promise her that the people who did this to her will get justice. My daughter is dead. My daughter does not get to come home.”

The girl’s mother has been cooperative with the investigation. Stanek said police have yet to talk with Lester, who has not been around since the shooting. Shantye Brown is facing drug charges after being picked up during a drug sweep in February. Both she and Lester have previous convictions on drug charges.

A crowd of family and friends, some sobbing, formed outside the city police station. Stanek said he was unable to reach the girl’s mother or her father before making the announcement of the arrests. The viewing for the young girl was Friday night.

Ta’Niyah’s mother sobbed and fell to the ground as the suspects were loaded into police vehicles and transported to Redlinger’s office for arraignment.

City police were cautious in moving the suspects from the station to Redlinger’s office for arraignment, trying to avoid the crowd. Stanek said the police had to be concerned for their safety.

Three were already in Washington County jail. Thomas and Cochran were arrested on drug charges Wednesday. Goehring was placed in jail Friday afternoon on a probation detainer. White was picked up at his home.

The suspects were denied bond because of the homicide charge. A preliminary hearing is set for April 16 in Central Court.

While the investigation continues, Stanek does not anticipate any more arrests.

“There is always a relief and satisfaction when we make an arrest,” Stanek said. “But this involved a child. We have been in here pretty much round-the-clock.”

Staff writer Karen Mansfield contributed to this report.