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Tampa girl, 4, dies of gunshot reaching for candy

Yanelly Zoller, also known as Nelly, snuggles with her grandfather’s dog, Venus. “She loved to help daddy work on the car,” her father, Shane Zoller, 22, said.
Published Sep. 21, 2017

TAMPA — One day last week, 4-year-old Yanelly Zoller reached into her grandmother's purse looking for candy, her father says.

Instead, she found a gun. She accidently pulled the trigger and was shot in the chest.

Shane Zoller, 22, is the father of three children: one living, another on the way and the little girl he will bury today.

"She just wanted some damn candy," Zoller said Wednesday.

Tampa police are still investigating, but said they have no reason to doubt the story.

The incident happened Sept. 14 at the North Tampa home of Michael and Christie Zoller, who are Yanelly's grandparents.

"I was driving to pick her up with her bathing suit in my car to take her to the splash pads," Shane Zoller said. "When I pulled up, that's when I saw all the police lights."

Yanelly, who went by Nelly, was a perfect mixture of her mother and father, he said. The two shared custody.

"She loved to help daddy work on the car," he said. "She would hand me tools. But she also really liked doing her makeup."

According to the obituary her family wrote, she also loved playing with her puppy, watching the cartoon Shimmer and Shine and jumping on the couch.

Shane Zoller said he was still in high school when he became a father. If his parents had not helped him with Nelly, he said, he would have had to drop out of school.

"She was extremely close to them and would get so excited when she got to stay at her nana's house," he said. "She was attached to her nana's hip."

The family is rasing money for Nelly's funeral costs on crowdfunding websites GoFundMe.com and YouCaring.com.

Contact Jonathan Capriel at jcapriel@tampabay.com

SPECIAL REPORT: In Florida, one child is shot every 17 hours

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