4-year-old girl dies after being thrown into Tampa river; mother suspected

TAMPA, FLA. (WSVN) - Officials said a 4-year-old girl died after she was thrown into the waters of a Tampa river.

Tampa Police responded to the scene along the Hillsborough River, which runs through Downtown Tampa and retrieved the child, who was eventually pronounced dead, Thursday afternoon.

“You can imagine we do have a few witnesses that called us, and they’re kind of shaken up a bit,” Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan said at the scene, “and so it’s a crazy scene that we are still unraveling many of the pieces.”

In a matter of 30 minutes, dive teams discovered the child approximately 75 feet off shore and transported her to St. Joseph’s Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

The child was believed to be with a woman that, police said, was her mother.

“The mom is in custody, and right now we are sorting through to get answers,” said Dugan. “That’s why I say we believe it’s her child, but we are trying to piece this whole thing together.”

Police took the woman into custody at a nearby location. She was later identified as 26-year-old Shakayla Denson.

“Unfortunately, at this point, there are more questions than there are answers,” said Dugan. “It’s the craziness of the world that we live in at times.”

Authorities said Denson stole a gray Nissan Altima from a repair shop before driving to the river.

A photo taken by a neighbor showed a woman wading in the middle of the river, slowly walking back to shore.

It remains unclear whether the girl was already dead when she was thrown into the river.

According to FOX13, police have charged Denson with first-degree murder.

Officials are waiting for an autopsy to determine the cause of the child’s death.

Authorities continue investigating the situation.

Copyright 2020 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.