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Published: Wednesday, 1/22/2014 - Updated: 2 years ago

Cleveland ex-con charged in fatal shooting of girl, 5

Geoffrey Gurkovich Geoffrey Gurkovich

CLEVELAND — An ex-con was charged with aggravated murder in the death of a 5-year-old girl who was shot in the head while sitting in a vehicle with her mother.

The victims — Jermani Brooks and her 33-year-old mother, Noni Brooks — apparently were in the wrong place at the wrong time, Police Chief Michael McGrath said.

The suspect, Geoffrey Gurkovich, intended to shoot a man who got into an argument with his girlfriend, McGrath said. The girlfriend gave Gurkovich information that led him to the area where the victims were shot Sunday night, said McGrath.

Jermani Brooks died. Her mother was wounded and was hospitalized in fair condition.

Gurkovich’s arraignment had been scheduled for today but was postponed until Thursday. No attorney for him was listed in court records detailing the charge. The court filings included a request for high bond.

Police credited a neighbor’s surveillance footage with helping them solve the crime.

With the help of the recording, police traced a van seen leaving the area at the time of the shooting, checked at Gurkovich’s former home and developed information that led to his arrest in nearby Newburgh Heights.

Police said Gurkovich, 32, of Cleveland, has served time behind bars for escape and domestic violence. Prison records show he was released in 2012 after serving more than three years on a sentence out of Cleveland.

A vigil for the girl was scheduled for Thursday evening in her working-class neighborhood near Interstate 480 on Cleveland’s west side.

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