At around 5 p.m. on Friday, Dejah Joyner, 12, was standing in the living room of her Hempstead home in Long Island, New York. According to Newsday, a stray bullet from the street traveled through the family’s glass window and struck the girl in the head. She was rushed to Winthrop-University Hospital with the bullet in her brain, but died from her injuries Friday at approximately 7 p.m., Nassau County police revealed Sunday.
Neighbors told NBC 4 New York that Joyner’s home had been shot at before, but police are reporting that although Friday’s shooting may have been a result of gang retaliation, Joyner was likely not meant to be the target.
Authorities are offering a $75,000 reward for anyone who has information leading to the shooter. No arrests have been made.
“Dejah Joyner’s life was violently cut short before she even had a chance to live it — this is a heartbreaking tragedy and we will do everything in our power to make sure that the gunman is brought to justice,” said Acting Nassau District Attorney Madeline Singas. “Law enforcement is working around the clock on this case, but we also need the public’s help to help us hold Dejah’s killer accountable. If you know something, please call the Crime Stoppers tip line at 800-244-TIPS [800-244-8477].”
A prayer vigil was held Sunday at Antioch Baptist Church, where Joyner’s parents, who were in the next room when she was shot, were visibly mourning.
“We’re all here to stand with this family,” church leader Bishop Phillip Elliot said before his congregation. “In our congregation, there are individuals who are relatives of the 12-year-old young lady who experienced the tragedy of being stopped in her tracks of her life’s journey a few days ago.”
Earlier Sunday morning at Union Baptist Church in Hempstead Village, the Rev. Sedgwick V. Easley spoke about Joyner’s work in the local Girl Scouts group, her family’s generous involvement in the church, and how he held her hands while praying for her at her bedside before she passed away.
“When we start losing our babies, when you start burying your preteens, this is a sad state of affairs,” Easley told his church. “I don’t know what the world is coming to, but I do know we serve a God who has the whole wide world.”
He continued, “Anyone [who] so cowardly can kill our babies and not turn themselves in, we shouldn’t rest until justice is served.”