$35K reward offered in shooting of Za'layia Jenkins: "To those who took her life, we will catch you"

MILWAUKEE -- Officials with the Milwaukee Police Department hope that two rewards -- one offered by Attorney Michael Hupy and one offered by the FBI will lead to an arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the shooting of Za'layia Jenkins.

The nine-year-old girl, who would have turned 10 years old on Tuesday, May 17th was "legally pronounced dead/brain dead" at 5:00 p.m. on Monday, May 16th, according to the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner's Office.

"MPD was notified by the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner's Office that the hospital had notified them that Za'layia was in a condition of brain death -- essentially, she had expired," MPD Captain Aaron Raap said Tuesday.

Za'layia's cousin told FOX6 News she remains on life support.

Za'layia Jenkins

The Milwaukee Police Department, along with Mayor Tom Barrett, Hupy and FBI Special Agent in Charge Bob Shields hosted a news conference on Tuesday afternoon, where they announced the $25,000 reward being offered by Hupy to the first person who provides information leading to an arrest and conviction in this case, and a $10,000 reward offered by the FBI.

"This is the third time in the last year that I have felt compelled to come forward as a citizen to offer a $25,000 reward when a young child has been shot and killed or injured by bullets coming through walls and windows of their own home. We cannot tolerate a society where children are murdered. Parents -- I know you can bring your children up to be better than the gang members who did this," Hupy said.

"This little girl slipped the bonds of Earth and touched the face of God. The person or persons whose actions affected the lives of many Milwaukeeans will not go undiscovered,"  Aaron Raap, commander of the Metropolitan Investigations Division at MPD said.

Raap said during the news conference that tips are not coming in as quickly as they would like in this case -- and MPD officials are hopeful that the rewards, totaling $35,000, will result in more tip calls, and eventually, arrest(s).

"Today is her 10th birthday. That should be celebrated by a little girl with her friends and family. Instead, we stand here. This senseless violence has once again disrupted this community in a way no parent can ever accept. I am tired of having to have this conversation over and over again. I will continue, with all the strength I have, to ensure that we reduce the violence in this city. To those who took her life, we will catch you and prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law," Mayor Barrett said.

Nine-year-old Za'layia Jenkins shot near 15th and Meinecke

Police say Jenkins was struck by a stray bullet while inside a home near 15th and Meinecke on Thursday, May 5th. The gunfire happened during a shootout between two groups of armed individuals. Police recovered more than 40 casings at the scene.

Jenkins was listed in critical condition after the shooting. But late on Monday, May 16th, the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner's Office indicated Jenkins was "legally pronounced dead/brain dead" at 5:00 p.m.  The medical examiner said in a statement to FOX6 News that an autopsy is pending.

"In our city, in our society, what would allow an individual to use a gun in an open area when they knew the potential was there for a young child to lose their life. What type of person would do that? There is someone out there right now who knows who fired that gun. If this was your child, you would want to know," Mayor Barrett said.

Jenkins would have turned 10 years old on Tuesday, May 17th.

Za'layia Jenkins

Raap during the news conference addressed a green Jeep Cherokee -- still being sought by police in connection with this shooting.

Raap said investigators believe the person(s) who were in that Jeep Cherokee, caught on surveillance camera near the scene of the shooting on May 5th can lead police to the person(s) responsible for Jenkins' death.

Raap emphasized that this doesn't mean the Cherokee was involved in the shooting. But MPD does believe the person(s) inside that vehicle are key to this investigation.

"If you hear something -- say something. If you've seen something -- say something. There is no higher priority for the (Milwaukee Police) Department than (this case)," Raap said.

Anyone with information about the case is asked to call Milwaukee Police at 414-935-7360.

The Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS) shares the family’s and community’s sadness over the death of Za’layia Jenkins. Za’layia’s mother works for MCTS in the Customer Service Department.

Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele released the following statement on Tuesday morning:

"Words cannot express the sadness over the loss of this innocent child. As a father of three girls, I am heartbroken. As a resident of Milwaukee, I am frustrated and angry. As County Executive, the death of Za’layia is another critical reminder of the need for us to stand together and say enough of this senseless violence.

I ask anyone who knows about the shooting to call the police. Nothing will bring Za’layia back, but the people responsible need to be held accountable."

Monitor FOX6 News and FOX6Now.com for updates on this developing story.