The rifle’s bullet likely wasn’t meant for the 4-year-old girl.

Yet it found Janaya Swain sitting in the back seat of a car with three other children — ages 7, 6, and 3 — in West Akron.

It was a single shot fired in the dark, police say, by a man who shouldn’t have had a gun.

Darnell L. Bitting’s long criminal history in Summit County — most recently a conviction for heroin trafficking in December 2015— makes it unlawful for him to even possess a weapon.

The shooting occurred about 10:30 p.m. Friday in the 900 block of Mercer Avenue.

Someone tied teddy bears, stuffed rabbits and mylar balloons — one that said “princess” — to a telephone pole Saturday to mark the spot.

Officials haven’t released additional details on Janaya’s family yet, nor explained their connection to Bitting.

But they have said the girl’s mother drove to the Mercer Avenue home where Bitting was Friday night to retrieve something that belonged to her.

The woman brought with her three other children and the paternal grandmother of two of them, all in a 2008 Dodge Avenger.

She parked in front of the house and crossed the devil strip to the house alone. When no one answered the door, police said the woman smashed several of the home’s windows.

Police said Bitting then came outside with the rifle and fired a shot at the Avenger.

The woman’s mother, who had been sitting in the passenger seat, got into the driver’s seat of the car and tried to drive herself and the children out of harm’s way and down the street.

But it apparently was too late.

The single shot had hit the girl, who was immediately rushed to Akron Children’s Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

In the chaos, Bitting — 6 feet, 3 inches tall and 240 pounds — apparently slipped away, authorities said.

He was arrested shortly after 4 p.m. Saturday in a house in the 700 block of Corley Street in Akron by the U.S. Marshals Service Northern Ohio Violent Fugitive Task Force and Akron narcotics police.

Authorities who investigated another house where Bitting was living found 15 guns, body armor and a hand grenade, WKYC-Channel 3 reported after confirmation by U.S. Marshals.

Police haven’t said what Bitting’s relationship is with the woman and her family or whether he knew there was anyone inside the car when police say he pulled the trigger.

On Saturday afternoon, no one answered the doors at most of the houses near the yellow crime scene tape surrounding the home on Mercer Avenue, where three windows facing the front porch were broken.

A woman in the neighborhood after the shooting posted a video on Facebook early Saturday morning showing the flashing lights of at least a half-dozen Akron police cars on the street in the aftermath.

“This is just sad … just terrible,” the woman says as she walks the street, trying to figure out how the girl was shot. “This doesn’t make any … sense. This makes me scared to live out here.

Investigators signed warrants Saturday for Bitting’s arrest on charges of murder and having a weapon under disability.

Beacon Journal/ staff writer Brandon Bounds contributed to this report. Amanda Garrett can be reached at 330-996-3725 or Follow her on Twitter @agarrettABJ.