HOUSTON (AP) — The family of a 9-year-old Houston girl still hospitalized following a road rage shooting asked for the public’s help on Monday in finding those responsible for injuring her.
Houston’s mayor and police chief joined the family of Ashanti Grant in asking for information that could lead to an arrest and also announced that a reward in the case has been increased to $30,000.
Larry Grant, Ashanti’s uncle, said during a news conference that his family is “crushed” by what happened to his niece, who was shot in the head.
“We just want someone to please bless our family and please step forward. Give justice to Ashanti. She deserves it,” Grant said.
Ashanti was riding in her family’s SUV at around 9 p.m. Feb. 8 on Interstate 69 in southwestern Houston when it got between two vehicles that appeared to be racing, according to police.
One of the vehicles, a white 2017 GMC Denali pickup truck, cut off the SUV several times, then pulled behind the SUV.
Someone in the truck then fired shots at the SUV, wounding the girl, who had been sitting in the backseat watching cartoons, Grant said.
Police say a man was driving the truck and there was a female passenger.
Ashanti remained in critical condition on Monday, said Houston Police Chief Troy Finner.
“Somebody knows something and we have to stand up because if we allow this to go on in our city, it will continue. We are going to get you in custody, but we need some information,” Finner said.
In July, Houston police announced the Safe Roadways Initiative to combat a 29% increase in road rage incidents since 2018.
The initiative was started after the death of 17-year-old David Castro, who was shot when a man opened fire as Castro and his family were driving home from a Houston Astros game.
As of last month, Houston police and several other local and state law enforcement agencies have issued more than 6,400 citations related to aggressive driving and made 613 arrests as part of the initiative.
The shooting of Ashanti comes as Houston has announced a $44 million plan to tackle rising violent crime, particularly an ongoing surge of homicides, in the nation’s fourth largest city.
Like other major cities across the U.S., Houston has seen an increase in violent crime in the last couple of years amid the pandemic.
Mayor Sylvester Turner said during Monday’s news conference that as part of the city’s $44 million plan, he is working with local law enforcement departments and other agencies to have a system of about 1,000 cameras that are used to monitor real-time traffic conditions in the Houston area’s freeway system be reconfigured to allow for recording.
The cameras currently do not record video as part of an earlier agreement related to concerns over various issues, including recordings being used in civil litigation, Turner said.
“But times have changed … When you start dealing with the increasing road rage that’s taking place in our streets, the technology is readily available,” Turner said.
Finner said the cameras were going to be used to help police fight crime.
“Some of those individuals are saying, ‘Hey it’s too much surveillance.’ This is a different time and nobody is going to use that surveillance equipment to violate anybody’s rights,” Finner said.
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