A $35,000 reward has been offered for information in the shooting death of a 9-year-old Milwaukee girl who was struck by a bullet fired from outside her home earlier this month, authorities announced Tuesday.
Milwaukee police said in a statement Za’layia Jenkins was pronounced brain-dead Monday, just a day before her 10th birthday. However, John Jones, a cousin, said that the girl was still on life support.
“Today is Zalayia’s 10th birthday,” Mayor Tom Barrett said at a news conference where the rewards were announced. “Tenth birthdays should be celebrated by a little girl with her friends, with her family. Instead we are standing here. We’re standing here because senseless violence has once again disrupted this community in a way that any parent could never ever, ever accept.”
The FBI offered $10,000 toward the reward, while Milwaukee attorney Michael Hupy kicked in $25,000 for information leading to the shooter or shooters.
“This is the third time in the last year that I have felt compelled to come forward as a citizen to offer a $25,000 reward when a young child has been shot and killed or injured by bullets coming through walls and windows of their own home. We cannot tolerate a society where children are murdered. Parents — I know you can bring your children up to be better than the gang members who did this,” Hupy said.
Za’layia was shot May 5 as she watched TV, while two groups with rifles and pistols engaged in a shootout outside, police said. Capt. Aaron Raap said investigators don’t know whether the shooting was random and haven’t ruled out that the home was targeted.
According to Fox 6 Now, tips aren’t coming into investigators as quickly as they hoped. Raap said they hope the reward will result in more tip calls and eventually arrests.
Family members participated in a march Tuesday afternoon to protest the violence.
“Turn yourself in,” said one of Za’layia’s aunts, Keyana Boone. “How do you sleep at night? You took an innocent life. A 9-year-old. She didn’t do nothing to nobody. I don’t understand how they sleep at night.”
Police still are searching for a green Jeep Cherokee whose driver may have information about the shooting. Raap said it doesn’t mean the vehicle was involved in the shooting, but they believe the person inside the vehicle could have something to do with it.
“If you hear something — say something. If you’ve seen something — say something. There is no higher priority for the (Milwaukee Police) Department than (this case),” Raap added.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.