HOUSTON — A Texas 8-year-old who escaped harm in a car accident early Saturday was shot and killed just moments later, police say.
De'Maree Adkins was asleep in the back seat of her mother's car around 1 a.m. Saturday as they drove through southwest Houston. The Houston Chronicle reported that mother and daughter were just five minutes from home when a Pontiac Grand Prix blew through an intersection and collided with the Honda driven by De'Maree's mother, Toyia Thomas.
Thomas’ first instinct was to be sure her daughter was OK.
"I called her name and I said, 'Are you OK?'" Thomas told the Chronicle. "(She said) 'Yeah, I'm OK. What happened, mama?'"
Thomas said that was when a third vehicle, a four-door sedan, pulled up next to her Honda. A woman got out of the car and opened fire on Thomas and her daughter.
“I don’t know who it was and I don’t know why she was shooting,” Thomas said.
She said she didn’t realize that De’Maree had been hit until she tried to get her daughter out of the car. That’s when she saw the blood.
"I told her to stay with me, stay with me," Thomas told the Chronicle, breaking down in tears. "Her body just went limp."
De’Maree was taken to a local hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
Investigators said between five and seven shots were fired, though it is not yet clear if the shooter was targeting Thomas’ vehicle or someone in the Grand Prix involved in the crash.
"We don't know if they were firing at each other and struck the vehicle, or if once the accident happened, they got angry, jumped out and they shot the vehicle," Detective David Stark told the newspaper. "We just don't know."
As detectives looked for those responsible for De’Maree’s death, her family remembered her short life and mourned the milestones they won’t see her achieve. The MacGregor Elementary School honor student had recently started learning the violin.
Her grandfather, Melvin Jarmon, told KPRC 2 in Houston that De'Maree, who he called "the boss," enjoyed making him toe the line. De'Maree's older cousin recalled the last time she spoke to the little girl.
"Before the accident, she FaceTimed me and she told me that she loved me," Victoria Jarmon said.
Thomas was struggling to understand her daughter’s death.
"She was a good girl, an honor roll student. Full of life," Thomas told KPRC. "They took my baby away from me. Why? She didn't deserve this. She was only 8."
Police said that the driver of the Pontiac that was involved in the crash got into the sedan with the shooter and they fled together. No suspects had been publicly identified as of Monday morning.
Houston’s Crime Stoppers is offering a $5,000 reward for information in the case. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has added an additional $10,000 to that reward.
"Cecilia and I send our deepest sympathies to De'Maree's family during this unimaginably difficult time," Abbott said in a statement. "There is no place for heinous acts like this in Texas. We urge anyone who has any information to contact Houston Crime Stoppers immediately to bring those involved to justice."
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