A child who only days before asked police if they could keep her safe in a crime ridden neighborhood lost her life to violence. Za’layia Jenkins, 9, interacted with Milwaukee Police about two weeks ago when they were visiting her neighborhood as part of a community outreach effort. She even jumped rope with police Capt. Shunta Boston-Smith and made an impression on the officers because of her sweet innocence. All of that came to an end while she was watching TV in her home on May 5, 2016 when a stray bullet hit her in the head. Police state that there was an exchange of gunfire with two groups armed with rifles and pistols. She was transported to a hospital and was declared brain dead last Friday and died from her injuries this past Monday. Tragically, yesterday would have been her 10th birthday.
After the shootout, police recovered more than 40 shell casings in the area. The family is understandably upset as is the community over this senseless act of violence. Vigils were held yesterday to bring attention to Za’layia’s death and to ask the community to come forward with any information on the shooting. Police have stated that a 31-year-old woman, who is part of Za’layia’s extended family, was arrested on obstruction of justice charges. There have been no other arrests. Law enforcement continues to look for those responsible and have posted a $35K reward for those who give information that leads to the arrest of those responsible.
The death of Za’layia Jenkins is part of an upsurge in the number of children who have been shot in Milwaukee. Police stated that in 2016, 29 children under the age of 17 have suffered nonfatal gunshot wounds, compared with 18 at this time in 2015. At this time, police are looking for the driver of a green Jeep Cherokee who may have information related to the shooting. The public is being asked to call Milwaukee police at 414-935-7360.