Ferguson police are searching for clues about the killing of a 9-year-old girl who was shot when someone fired into a home where she was doing homework on her mother's bed.
No arrests have been made in Tuesday night's fatal shooting of Jamyla Bolden and police don't yet know if the home was targeted or the shots were random, Ferguson Sgt. Dominica Fuller said Thursday. Jamyla's 34-year-old mother was struck in the leg and treated at a hospital.
"You have a 9-year-old child on her mother's bed doing homework and a bullet strikes her," Fuller said. "Our concern is to get this person off the street."
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The shooting happened a couple of blocks from the site where 18-year-old Michael Brown was fatally shot by a police officer on Aug. 9, 2014, sparking sometimes violent protests.
Fuller, herself the mother of a 9-year-old, was among the first officers at the home after the shooting, which was reported just after 9:30 p.m. Tuesday. She said police did all they could to help the child, to no avail.
"As a mother I was hurt," she said. "I showed emotion and I cried and said a prayer for her and my heart is still broken."
Police don't know if the shots were fired from a car or from someone standing outside the home. Fuller would offer no details about where the bullets entered or how many were fired, saying she didn't want to hinder the investigation.
The small ranch home sits on a street that intersects with Canfield Drive, where Brown was killed. A house next door to where Jamyla was shot has a sign in the yard that reads, "We Must Stop Killing Each Other." Similar signs have sprung up around St. Louis and northern St. Louis County, known locally as North County, during a year when homicides are on the rise in the region.
"The simple fact is our kids are dying at a young age at a fast pace and we as a community must come together," Fuller said.
Jamyla was a fourth-grader at Koch Elementary School. A school district spokeswoman described her as sweet and soft-spoken.
Thursday evening, more than 200 people, including police officers and Ferguson Mayor James Knowles III, gathered for a vigil honoring Jamyla, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. Attendees released balloons and took turns speaking through a bullhorn, calling for justice for the 9-year-old and asking anyone with information about the crime to come forward.
St. Louis Cardinals president Bill DeWitt III and his wife, Ira, will pay for Jamyla's funeral expenses, a spokesman for the baseball team said.