Slain Detroit 7-year-old's mom says she forgives killer but wants justice
Detroit — Etosha Williams said she will pray for whoever fired several shots through her living room window Wednesday, killing her slumbering 7-year-old daughter, Reginae Williams.
But while the grieving mother said Friday that her Christian faith requires her to forgive the killer, she cried out for justice.
"Reginae was only 7 years old; such a sweet, sweet, beautiful baby," Williams said during a press conference at the Detroit Police 5th Precinct, not far from her home in the 3900 block of Bedford, where about 8:20 p.m. Wednesday, someone in a dark vehicle opened fire at the house, killing Reginae as she slept on the living room couch, surrounded by family members.
"To the person who murdered my baby: I first would like to offer you Jesus Christ," Williams said. "In order for me and my family to move on, because I'm a believer, I have to forgive you. That doesn't mean that it doesn't hurt, and it doesn't mean that I don't want justice."
Detroit police chief James Craig said investigators are "going to work this case until we bring the cowards responsible for this to justice. This is just a senseless loss of life. These shootings in our community must stop. We're talking about children here."
Mayor Mike Duggan said he's been to too many press conferences involving slain children.
"The worst part about being mayor are the days when an innocent life is taken from this community," Duggan said. "We've been here too often. We were here a year ago when 3-year-old C.J. Miller was on his way to 'Sesame Street Live' when somebody fired into the back seat of the car in a road rage case ...
"We were here in May when (4-year-old) Messiah Townsend was killed; two groups got in a fight on the street, exchanged gunfire, and Messiah Townsend was eating a snack in his grandmother's kitchen — shot and killed," Duggan said. "And now, Reginae, sleeping on the couch in her own living room. Detroit, we're better than this."
Craig said he's not at liberty to discuss details about the investigation into Reginae's killing.
"There are some things I can't go into right now, but do know we strongly believe that we will bring these violent individuals into custody, and the community is helping us," the chief said.
Reginae, one of nine children, was a straight-A student at Detroit's Marcus Garvey Academy, her mother said. The family worships at Christian Liberty Community Church in Detroit.
"It's sad when you can't go to sleep because you don't know if you'll wake up again," Williams said. "It's sad that as parents, you put your child to sleep, and lay them on the couch, and you're thinking all is well — but yet a coward decides they have nothing better to do than shoot rounds into a house that had two parents and nine children in there."
During Friday's press conference, Craig and Williams thanked a police officer who tried to save Reginae's life. Craig said the same officer recently ran into a fire to save people's lives.
"I would like to thank DPD for responding so fast, and especially want to give a special thank-you to the officer who did not wait for the ambulance, but picked my baby up in her arms to take my baby to the hospital to try to give her a chance at life," Williams said. "I want to thank the nurses at St. John's Hospital for working tirelessly around the clock to try to save my baby's life."
Williams also implored the killer to turn him or herself in to police.
"You know what you did," she said. "You took a 7-year-old's life. You destroyed the life of eight other children. You destroyed my life; you destroyed my husband's life; my family's life. We will never be the same again.
"I trust that Detroit police will find you, catch you and bring you in," she said. "What you don't pay for on this side of life, you will pay for when sweet, sweet Jesus comes back. Rest in peace, Reginae. Rest with the angels, baby. You're safe now, in God's hands."
The family has set up a Gofundme.com account to raise money to help with funeral expenses.
Anyone with information about the killing is asked to call the Detroit Police Homicide Section at (313) 596-2260, or Crime Stoppers of Michigan at (800) SPEAK-UP (773-2587).