Police in Jacksonville, Florida have offered an $11,000 award for anyone who can help them capture the men responsible for the death of a 7-year-old girl who was killed by a stray bullet on Saturday.
Heydi Rivas Villanueva was sitting in a car parked in a strip mall, waiting along with her dad and a sibling for her mother to come out of her job at a Mexican restaurant located in the shopping plaza, police say.
“Gunfire erupted between two unrelated groups,” the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Department said in a statement. “A stray bullet struck Heydi in the head, killing her.” Police say she and her family were not the intended targets of the gunfire.
After the shooting, at least two persons of interest fled into a green, early 2000s Nissan Altima. Police have released surveillance footage of the two persons of interest in addition to a photo of a bright blue vehicle they believe was involved.
The persons of interest are being described as two African-American males.
Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry took to Twitter to respond to the death of the child.
"These are our children," Curry tweeted. "I've spoken to the sheriff. Our cops are in pursuit of these terrible people. Prayers for the child and family. Our law enforcement will bring the full force of the law on those who committed this."
Police announced on Twitter that a reward of $11,000 is available to whoever provides information which leads to an arrest in the shooting.
During a press conference held on Saturday night, police said that their thoughts and prayers go to the family and friends of Villanueva.
“She was an innocent victim doing nothing but waiting for her mother to come out of work.”
They said that multiple rounds were exchanged between the unrelated groups during the shooting. The two persons of interests are believed to have been exchanging gunfire with an individual or individuals inside a car.
Anyone who knows any information is urged to contact the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office at 904-630-0500 or email us at JSOCrimeTips@jaxsheriff.org.
[Photo: Jacksonville Sheriff’s Department]