De'Maree Atkins' mother didn't know she was hurt until she noticed blood on the girl's jacket

By Chris Harris
February 27, 2017 01:00 PM
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An 8-year-old girl was fatally shot following a car crash in Houston early Saturday morning while riding with her mother, and the suspected killer is still on the large, PEOPLE confirms.

According to a statement from the Houston Police Department, De’Maree Atkins was asleep in the backseat of her mother’s Honda Accord when it was struck by a speeding car — described as a white Pontiac — shortly after 2 a.m.

Police allege that the Pontiac was traveling at a high-rate of speed alongside another vehicle, described only as a dark, four-door sedan. Both of those cars allegedly fled the scene, but then a third vehicle pulled up behind the Honda carrying the little girl.

“At some point after the crash, an unknown person opened fire on the Honda, striking De’Maree,” the statement reads. “Paramedics transported the girl to the hospital where she died of her injuries.”

Her mother, Latoyia Thomas, was not injured in the shooting.

There are no suspects in custody at this time, and police are not disclosing any possible motives for the shooting.

Credit: GoFundMe

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Homicide detectives are appealing to the public, asking that anyone with any information about the fatal shooting contact them at 713-308-3600 or Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS.

A reward of up to $5,000 is being offered to anyone who provides any information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible.

‘Please Turn Yourself In,’ Says Mom

PEOPLE could not reach Thomas for comment Monday, but she did speak about the collision and the shooting in an interview with the Houston Chronicle.

“I was going through the light and through my peripheral vision I could see a car coming at a high rate of speed,” Thomas said. “We collided.”

Thomas called out to De’Maree, asking if her daughter was hurt. She responded that she was fine. That’s when the third car drove up.

Thomas told the Chronicle she remembers seeing a woman step out of the car who then started firing off shots.

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“I don’t know who it was and I don’t know why she was shooting,” Thomas said, not realizing her daughter had been struck by the gunfire. She pulled De’Maree from the car and noticed blood on her jacket.

“I told her to stay with me, stay with me,” Thomas told the Chronicle, breaking down into tears. “Her body just went limp.”

Thomas told the paper she wants justice for her slain daughter.

“If the person [who did this] has any conscience, any heart, please turn yourself in,” she said.

The family has established a GoFundMe campaign to help fund De’Maree’s funeral, which had raised $12,480 at press time.