Arrests made in shooting death of Za'Layia Jenkins

9-year-old Milwaukee girl killed by stray bullet

Two suspects are in custody in connection with the shooting death of a 9-year-old Milwaukee girl in May of last year. Police are still searching for a third man.

Za’Layia Jenkins was inside a relative’s home in the 2400 block of North 15th Street when she was hit by a bullet fired from outside. She died several days later, just before her 10th birthday. 

Otha Jose Brown Jr., Damonta Jennings and Tony Powell Jr. are charged with felony first degree reckless homicide. Police are still searching for Jennings.

According to the criminal complaint, several residents reported hearing shots and "seeing all or part of the shootings."

"We're grateful that it's come to fruition, but we can't say that we're happy; this is a devastating tragedy," Police Chief Edward Flynn said Monday. "This is obviously another dreadful example of the devastating toll that mindless violence takes on the young people of Milwaukee.”

A relative of the victim said she saw a white Malibu stop in the area and conduct what appeared to be a drug
transaction with another car that had stopped. After she yelled out not to sell drugs there, she said the driver drove off, came back, pulled out a gun and said, “I serve anyone I want to in front of any house I want to!"

After running back inside the home, she said she heard gunshots soon afterward.

Another witness said a man who lives in a home on the 1500 block of West Meinecke chasing after the Malibu and fired shots at it.

According the criminal complaint, Brown admitted to participating in shooting, and was in the backseat of the Malibu driven by Jennings with Powell in the front seat.

Brown reportedly told investigators that the three had stopped on the street to conduct a drug deal, and argued  with a woman and a man who came outside carrying a gun and fired shots at the fleeing car.

The men got out of the car, walked back toward the home on West Meinecke and fired shots at the man's house, according to the criminal complaint.

Authorities say Za’layia Jenkins was struck by one of those stray bullets.

If convicted, the defendants could face up to 60 years in prison.

Flynn says making an arrest in Jenkins' murder has weighed on his officers.

"We treat all our homicides seriously, but the death of children effects every member of the department and we work tirelessly on solving those crimes," he said.

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