The Houston police department intensified its search for the person responsible for shooting a 9-year-old girl as she sat in the back seat of her parent’s SUV while watching cartoons.
In a press conference, Houston mayor Sylvester Turner said he and other community leaders are putting up $30,000 for anonymous tips that will yield an arrest of the person(s) responsible.
Ashanti Grant, 9, is in critical condition in an induced coma, fighting for her life since being hit by a bullet on Tuesday, Feb. 8, around 9:10 p.m.
Law enforcement says they are in search of two suspects, a Hispanic male driver and a woman who were in a white GMC Denali pickup truck near the 9800 block of Southwest Freeway.
Ashanti was shot as her parents were taking her and her 12-year-old brother grocery shopping, when two cars sped by. The parents tried to get out of the way of the racing vehicles to no avail.
The Houston Police Department says the couple in the white GMC allegedly directed their attention to the Grant family’s car and cut them off several times. The male, who was driving the GMC, got behind the family’s Tahoe and shot into the vehicle, hitting Ashanti in the head as she watched cartoons in her seat.
None of the traffic cameras captured the incident. Paramedics were called and transported the girl to Texas Children’s Hospital.
According to KHOU 11, one witness said that he and his family were on the Southwest Freeway feeder coming toward Bissonnet when they heard the gunshots. The man claims that he stopped his car and saw The Grant family car being followed and shot at.
“It was really loud from inside the car with the windows up,” he said. “I felt horrible because I could tell it was a road rage. I knew it was a road rage. I just felt bad. I was hoping it wasn’t a kid or a family with kids involved.”
In a press conference on Monday, Feb. 12, attended by Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, Crime Stoppers deputy director Nichole Christoff, and Ashanti’s parents, Turner said he was praying for the family during this time and was honored they would join him at the media update.
“Her young life has been altered forever by a cowardly act. By someone … a criminal driving our streets … thinking he or she is above the law and acting with a callous disregard for human life. My advice would be to turn yourself in because we’re not going to stop until we find you.”
Houston police chief Troy Finner said his office believed the assailants range between the ages of 20 and 30 years old and that his investigators believe the truck is a 2017 model.
He said, “Sometimes we miss out on the human element. Pray for Ashanti, but I am going to refer to her as ‘Princess,’ because that is what she is. She is precious. She is one of our kids. The most important thing is we all come together.
“Even the streets have rules,” the chief reminded the public of their responsibilities. “And I am from the streets. I am from this city and we have called for the actions of every citizen (and I don’t care what your background is), somebody knows something. We batting 1,000 when you put your hands on our kids in this city.”
Jackson Lee also commented on the shooting, after applauding the mayor on his crime reduction plan. In her job as the chair of the judicial crime committee in Congress, she works with mayors across the country in their efforts to quell crime.
She had this to say before speaking on Ashanti: “2021 had 749 children injured by guns. We haven’t even got into the first quarter and 82 children across the nation have been injured by gun violence.
“Ashanti … innocent … princess … loved by everyone … a smile comes to my face. As a mother let me simply say, don’t think about protecting the perpetrator. Think about this family and the pain they are going through.”
Natasha Grant, Ashanti’s aunt, has set up a GoFundMe for her medical expenses. The family has raised under $27,000 and is hoping to reach $100,000 before its end.
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