Girl, 9, brain dead after being shot in family car on Valentines Day

A nine-year-old girl was shot dead in the back of her parent's car while they were travelling to a family dinner on Valentine's Day.

Arlene Alvarez was watching a movie with her earphones when her dad pulled up at a drive-thru ATM in Houston, Texas when gunfire rang out from a robbery at their stop.

The girl's father, Armando Alvarez, called out to his family to take cover but his daughter couldn't hear him to know to duck down in her seat and was caught in the crossfire.

Her tearful mother recalled the moment she was screaming for her daughter to duck down, saying: "I didn't scream loud enough. I didn't know she had her earphones on."

Her mother described her as a "warrior" after finding out Arlene was brain dead as a result of her injuries.

Arlene was rushed to a nearby hospital with critical injuries, where she tragically died the next day.

The Houston Police Department claim the child was shot by a man identified as Tony D. Earls in an apparent case of mistaken identity.

Earls allegedly believed he was shooting at a man who had just robbed him but that man had already fled the scene and he was, in fact, shooting at Alvarez's car from just 10 feet away.

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The 41-year-old shooter was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon but it is unconfirmed whether he has legal counsel in custody, CNN reports.

The family's attorney, Rick Ramos said: "Earls does not have a valid case for self-defence because there was no 'immediate threat or fear' as the robbery suspect was no longer around."

The identity of the robbery suspect, who remains at large, is under investigation.

Houston Police Executive Chief Matt Slinkard said: "Anytime that there are guns involved, the danger to innocent bystanders is extremely high."

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