LaPorsha Washington was embraced by family and community members before she addressed the crowd gathered at a Houston-area Walmart on Saturday, not far from where her 7-year-old daughter Jazmine Barnes was gunned down earlier this week.
"Say her name," the crowd chanted. "Jazmine!"
Crime, law enforcement and corrections
Crimes against persons
Death and dying
Political Figures - US
Sheila Jackson Lee
Washington took the microphone.
"I'm so happy to see all these faces from all over, and I thank you so much for doing this and coming together for my baby," Washington said with tears streaming down her face. "She's up there watching over all of us and making sure we're all good."
Barnes was riding in a car with her mother and three sisters Sunday morning around 7 a.m. when a man in a red or maroon pickup truck drove up next to their vehicle and opened fire.
Washington, 30, was shot in the arm, while Jazmine's 6-year-old sister was hit by shattered glass. Jazmine's two teenage sisters were not harmed.
Authorities have said the attack was unprovoked. The killer remains at large.
"There's going to be justice for her," Washington told the crowd, "because there's too many people out here looking for this man."
Washington addressed the crowd after a series of speakers that included members of Jazmine's family and community leaders, all of whom expressed dismay and shock at the murder of the young girl.
Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee called for a nationwide manhunt for the suspect, who has been described as a bearded white man, possibly in his forties. His victims in the shooting are all black.
"This is no longer a Houston case," Lee said. "This is the case that has taken national proportions and so you are gathered here for the nation to see that there is no room for failure."
Lee also said she wanted federal resources and law enforcement to provide support to local investigators, who have released a composite sketch of the suspect and surveillance footage of his truck.
"Someone has made the point that Jasmine is everyone's child," Lee said. "She is the nation's child. She is seen around the world."
Tips have poured in to Houston investigators. The killer has not been found, despite a $100,000 reward for information leading to his arrest, announced by social activist Shaun King.
Many speakers addressed Jazmine's killer directly on Saturday, calling him a coward and pleading with him to turn himself in.
The impact of Jazmine's death has been felt far and wide, and supporters have come together to support the family.
"I'm telling you, every time I see one of y'all reach out for me, I can hold my head up," Washington said Saturday. "I can get up in the morning."
"I just want to thank everybody for coming out and celebrating, and supporting this homegoing with me," she added. "And I say this is a very special homegoing, because I got a beautiful angel up there watching over me."
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