Community holds vigil for 11-year-old New Orleans girl shot in her home

Arabian Gayles,11, seen here, was killed Sept. 2, 2013, in a shooting in New Orleans.

An 11-year-old girl who was shot and killed while rocking her baby cousin to sleep will be remembered at a vigil near her New Orleans home on Tuesday night.

Arabian Gayles was hit in the head during the triple shooting on Monday, the second young child to fall victim to gun violence in the city in less than a week.

Four young children were in the home where Gayles held a 1-year-old in her arms when gunman opened fire outside, shooting off more than a dozen rounds, according to police. Her 11-year-old cousin and a 38-year-old man were also hit by bullets, but survived.

Gayles' uncle Derek Moffett said he ran to the young girl when the bullets started flying, but was too late.

"When I woke up, I heard them screaming," he told local NBC News affiliate WDSU. "I jumped out of my sleep. I ran over, I grabbed her, touched her. She wasn't breathing."

The latest shooting of a child came just days after 1-year-old Londyn Samuels was killed in the arms of her babysitter as the two walked down a city street.

Officials in the city pleaded for any witnesses to come forward with any information related to either crime as they failed to turn up suspects.

"Both of these unspeakable tragedies leave behind families who are searching for answers," New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said, according to local paper the Times-Picayune. "The NOPD is working around the clock to pursue those responsible for these crimes, now we need the community to come forward with information."

A reward for information leading to Gayles' killers was doubled to $5,000.

"The violence in New Orleans won't be stopped unless everyone gets involved," the mayor said, according to the paper.

The city recorded 76 murders in the first half of 2013, according to local newspaper The Advocate, a 20 percent drop from years before.

That's small consolation to the family of Samuels, the toddler who was shot and killed, and a spokeswoman for the family said they hope the death of their baby will make some of the city's gunmen lay down their weapons.

"There has to be some kind of good to come out of this," spokeswoman Angela Robertson said. "We hope Londyn's name is going to make some kind of change. Maybe she can be a miracle."

A bullet passed through the chest of Samuels' 18-year-old babysitter after two shots were fired at her, killing the baby in her arms.

"We do want answers," Robertson said. "We do want justice and we want someone to come forward. But our main focus right now is making sure the baby is put to rest."

But even in the toddler's shooting, no witnesses have come forward in the city where the no-snitching rule seems ironclad.

"What kind of man would shoot a woman holding a child?" Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas said on Friday in a plea for leads. "That's not the kind of person you want to protect."

NBC News' Tracy Connor contributed to this report.

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