Sheriff, mayor, state attorney urge community to help catch child killer

Sheriff Mike Williams: Focus to bring family of 7-year-old girl's justice

By Destiny McKeiver - Multi-media journalist, Roxy Tyler - Web producer

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams announced an $11,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction of whomever shot and killed a 7-year-old girl on the Westside Saturday evening.

"We've had our teams work throughout the night, running down leads," Williams said.

Heydi Rivas Villanueva, 7, was sitting in a car with her father when she was hit by gunfire on 103rd Street Saturday evening. She died from a gunshot wound to the head.

Police are looking for two groups of people who fired shots at each other nearby, the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office confirmed. The girl apparently got caught in the crossfire.

Detectives said the Heydi was in a car with her father and a younger sibling about 6 p.m. waiting for their mom who was inside a business in a strip mall on 103rd just west of Ricker Road. That's when JSO said two men approached another vehicle on foot in the parking lot and got into a confrontation with the people inside.

Investigators said both sides exchanged gunfire, which continued as the two men ran through the parking lot.

Police said a bullet from the exchange of gunfire entered the family's car and hit the 7-year-old in the head. The father and witnesses took the girl to a hospital, where she died at 8:49 p.m.Saturday.

Witnesses reported seeing two men running from the gunfire get into a green Nissan Altima.

Williams said they believe the windshield of the car is cracked, as approximately 13-15 shots were fired.

"Yesterday was a tragedy, Now we have to focus on bringing justice to this family," Williams said.

Mayor Lenny Curry mirrored the sheriff's comments.

"When I got the news last night, I felt the sadness and anger that I know the entire community is feeling. Today is about identifying and prosecuting these guys for what they did," Curry said.

Wylie Hodges, executive director of Crime Stoppers, said they have already received seven recent tips from the hotline number and hope that more will come.

"To be eligible, you do have to call CrimeStoppers first.  And again we do guarantee the anonymity and we work hand in hand with the sheriff’s office.  But you do need to tell us first for the reward," Hodges said.

Anyone with information is asked to call 866-845-TIPS.

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