Outpouring of support for family of slain 7-year-old Jacksonville girl
Vigil held Tuesday evening in parking lot where Heidy Villanueva was killed
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – There was an outpouring of support from the Jacksonville community Tuesday night as nearly 200 people gathered to honor the life of 7-year-old Heidy Villanueva, who tragically lost her life to gun violence.
At the scene of Saturday's deadly shooting, family, friends, complete strangers and members of the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office attended a vigil -- each overcome with sadness.
"To the family of this beautiful child: Our entire city is heartbroken over this loss," one man was heard telling the crowd.
The vigil took place at 7 p.m. -- just hours after Sheriff Mike Williams announced arrests in Saturday's shootout at the strip mall on 103rd Street, where Heidy was killed by a stray bullet.
Heidy, her father and another sibling were sitting in a parked car when gunfire erupted. According to the Sheriff's Office, 13 shots were fired as a result of a planned robbery under the pretense of a gun sale in the parking lot of an IHOP.
Moises Marino, who attended the vigil, owns a nearby restaurant and said Heidy's parents are regular customers. He remembered calling 911 after Heidy was shot in the head.
"I saw the father parked, so I didn't know until he ran around the car to grab his daughter. Then I realized what happened and I was crying," Marino said. "He was screaming with his daughter and I was with him trying to do something."
Overwhelmed with emotion, the young girl's parents fought back tears as they come to terms.
The community has come together to shower the family with support, even creating a Facebook group to bring justice to the little girl.
A recent post in the group shared how close Heidy was to her father:
Daughter - father dancePosted by Justice For Heidy on Tuesday, August 14, 2018
Everywhere he went she used go with him she never left his side. She always told her mother she had a dreamed to continue studies and have a career so she would no longer work. Heidy was going to start first grade on August 13, 2018 at Sadie T. Tillis Elementary School she was very excited about it...
Two men, Stanley Harris III, 19, and Trevonte Phoenix, 17, have been arrested. A third man, Abrion Price, 21, was still wanted Tuesday night in connection to Heidy's death.
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