$35K Reward in Shooting of 9-Year-Old Milwaukee Girl Who Asked Police to 'Keep Her Safe'

Image: Zalayia Jenkins, 9, was shot and killed in Milwaukee earlier in May.
Zalayia Jenkins, 9, was shot inside her Milwaukee home May 5.Family photo via TMJ4

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By Phil Helsel

Just a week before she was struck by a stray bullet, a little girl in Milwaukee asked the police chief if she could be kept safe amid a rising tide of crime.

Now, a $35,000 reward has been offered in hopes of finding anyone involved in a shooting in Milwaukee earlier this month that left a 9-year-old girl brain dead, authorities said Tuesday.

Days before Zalayia Jenkins was shot inside a home on May 5, the child spoke with a patrol officer and the child’s “only question was whether or not we could keep her safe,” Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn told reporters the night of the shooting.

“Sadly that question was answered tonight,” Flynn said at the time.

Zalayia was pronounced brain dead Monday — a day before what would have been her 10th birthday, Milwaukee police said in a statement.

Zalayia Jenkins, 9, was shot inside her Milwaukee home May 5.Family photo via TMJ4

A cousin, John Jones, told The Associated Press Tuesday that the girl is still on life support.

Two groups, one of which is believed to have been armed with rifles and a handgun, got into a "shootout" outside a north side home at around 8:30 p.m. and Zalayia was struck as she sat in the living room, according to police and NBC affiliate WTMJ. More than 40 shell casings were found at the scene, the station reported.

"If this were your child, you would want to know," Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said at a press conference announcing the reward, according to the station. "You would want to know who fired that gun."

The FBI offered has $10,000 and a local attorney, Michael Hupy, offered $25,000, for any information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone involved. FBI Special Agent in Charge Robert Shield called the shooting a “senseless tragedy.”

Police are also looking for a green Jeep Cherokee whose driver may have information about the shooting, police said.

A march and rally was held on the north side of the city Tuesday on what would have been the child's 10th birthday.

“Turn yourselves in. How do you all sleep at night, knowing that you all took an innocent life? Zalayia’s aunt, Precious Boone, told WTMJ Tuesday. “I don’t understand it,” she said.