Capt. Shunta Boston-Smith was walking her normal beat in a Milwaukee neighborhood in late April when a precocious nine-year-old girl named Za’layia Jenkins approached her. Jenkins asked why Smith was patrolling the area, and asked Smith to keep her safe. Then the girl and the officer enjoyed a game of jump rope before parting ways, according to WISN.
But they never had the chance to speak again. Za’layia was struck and killed by a stray bullet during a shootout between two armed groups in early May. She was pronounced dead on May 16, just a day shy of her 10th birthday, according to the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel.
Jenkins was watching TV on May 5 when two groups armed with guns engaged in a shootout outside of a family member’s home, according to the Milwaukee Police Department. Milwaukee Police collected over 40 casings from the crime scene, reports the Journal Sentinel.
The FBI and Milwaukee attorney Michael Hupy are offering a total of $35,000 for information about the shooting, according to WISN. Local police are looking for a green Jeep Cherokee, recorded on surveillance cameras near the scene of the crime.
“I just want whoever did this to my baby to know I don’t hate you for what you did,” the girl’s mother, Destiny Boone, said at a news conference, according to a YouTube video posted by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “I just need you to turn yourself in. I need justice for my baby.”
The investigation continues.