3 kids lost their parents in SW Detroit slayings; now FBI offers $10K for tips

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

Detroit — When a family of five drove through a southwest Detroit neighborhood early on July 4, an act of violence changed their lives.

Gunshots from a passing car left the two parents mortally wounded and their three children injured.

The Gonzalez family

Authorities have spent nearly two months seeking tips in the slayings of Maria and Francisco Gonzalez, and on Thursday they announced a $10,000 reward for information leading to an arrest. 

"I'm pleading with the community: if anybody has any information, please come forward," Detroit police Detective Jason Mays said during a press conference at police headquarters. "... The things that you think may be minute, those things might be key to the investigation."

The victims' relatives also are struggling to cope with a tragedy that has left three boys orphans. A GoFundMe effort has been launched to help them.

"Nobody in my family ever expected anything like this to happen," Edgar Gonzalez, Francisco's nephew, told reporters. "I really don’t wish this upon anyone. But at this point, there’s not much we can do but move forward and try and get this settled." 

The Gonzalez family had pulled over in their Dodge Durango at about 12:55 a.m. July 4 in the 8300 block of Homer when three cars approached their SUV, police said.

Someone inside one of the vehicles, described as a dark, newer model Ford Escape, started firing shots. All five in the Durango were struck, police said. 

Maria Gonzalez, also listed as Gonzalez-Garcia, was pronounced dead. Francisco Gonzalez was transported to a local hospital, where he later died from his injuries. The couple's children, ages 15, 12 and 9, were treated for theirs, police said.

Detroit police released surveillance images Thursday of a car believed to be connected.

The youths are "doing well" and remain with relatives, Edgar Gonzalez said Thursday. But the family seeks answers and closure.

"That person, those people, don’t deserve to be out on the streets — not a day longer," he said.

The FBI hopes the reward announced will spur calls to investigators about the slayings.

"Please help us provide these tips and let’s get justice for this family," said Steven D’Antuono, the special agent in charge of the bureau's Detroit Field Office.

Addressing residents' concerns speaking with authorities, Assistant Police Chief David LeValley said neither his department nor the FBI were interested in asking about immigration or citizenship status.

"You should feel comfortable coming forward to the Police Department and be assured that we’ll take the action to take those violent individuals off the street," he said.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Detroit Police Homicide Task Force at ‪(313) 596-2260, Crime Stoppers of Michigan at 1-800-SPEAK-UP, the FBI Tip line at 1-800-CALL-FBI or the Detroit Field Office at (313) 965-2323.