Two families seek answers in shootings of little girls

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Two little girls, nearly the same age, both shot in the head a day apart. The suspects in both of these shootings remain on the loose.

It came about a month ago...

"It was the worse phone call of my life," said Linda Rogers, Ja'Nyela Marsh's grandmother.

Rogers was told her 4-year-old granddaughter Ja'Nyela was shot in the head while sitting in an SUV in Racine.

"Sometimes we do have to go through a storm, and we do have heartache and pain and we don't understand why," said Rogers.

Ja'Nyela was taken to Children's Hospital after she was shot.

"I operated on her, I had to leave town for a meeting, when I came back I was expecting to have heard about her funeral and instead I'm talking with the kid and watching her walk around," said Bruce Kaufman, who operated on Ja'Nyela.

But 5-year-old Laylah Petersen, taken to the same hospital the next day, also suffering from a gunshot wound to her head -- her story ended differently.

"I think the family has been exemplary in how they have channeled their grief into good causes," said Milwaukee Police Chief, Ed Flynn.

Police say Laylah was hit by a stray bullet while sitting on her grandfather's lap inside their home, she was pronounced dead shortly after.

"I wish the investigation was going faster than it is. We've already got $10,000 worth of reward money on the table. We're hopeful that someone out there knows something and will tell," said Flynn.

There is also a $1,000 reward out there for information leading to the shooters responsible for Ja'Nyela's case. For her family, most of the donations from the community are going to them directly.

"We just had a lot of support from people that we didn't really know but cared and had support for her after what happened to her," said Janikka Marsh, Ja'Nyela's mother.

But as they continue to be thankful for their little girl, they don't forget Laylah and her family.

"We were here when Laylah came, so we saw the family, and we heard the cries and the weep, and we began to pray even for that family -- even though we were thanking God, we prayed that God could have saved that little girl and other little children," said Rogers.

And as they continue to pray -- for themselves, for Laylah, and for a stop in this violence.

"We just pray for those that have committed the crimes and those that are still committing crimes that they would just realize when you do this, you not only hurt the person you are intending, you are hurting families," said Rogers.

Ja'Nyela's mom says they will not return to their home since the suspects are still out there.

A benefit account has been set up in Ja'Nyela's name. You can make a donation at any Milwaukee area BMO Harris Bank branch.

A $10,000 reward has been offered for information leading to an arrest in the Petersen case. Anyone with information should contact the Milwaukee Police Department at 414-935-7360, or ATF at 1-800-ATF-GUNS. All calls will be kept confidential.