NEW ORLEANS -- For the second time in less than one week, the New Orleans Police Department is investigating a shooting in which children were involved.
"I was at work. I get the most disturbing phone call from work that my niece got shot, she might be dead, and my daughter got shot," said Shalonda Cary, holding back tears.
Cary said her 11-year-old daughter Paulreiona and 11-year-old Arabiana Gayles, Paulreiona's best friend and cousin, were sleeping in the living room when two bullets blasted through the front door. Arabiana was on the couch, and Paulreiona was on a mattress on the floor.
A bullet hit Arabiana in the head. She died at the hospital, leaving her mother in agony.
"I'm out of words. I feel like a piece of my heart has been ripped out," said Arabiana's mother, Ashley Moffet. "I want whoever did it to turn themselves in because my baby was an innocent bystander, and she is not even here with me no more, so whoever did it needs to turn themselves in."
Paulreiona's mother said her daughter was severely traumatized when she was shot.
"My daughter, they sent her home, and they removed a bullet from her hand, and they sent her home," said family friend Lashonda Wooldridge. "The other one went through her elbow and came out."
Crimestoppers issued an urgent call for tips to help detectives catch the suspects. They are offering a $5000 reward for information leading to arrests or indictments.
"Crimestoppers gives you an opportunity to have power over these situations, by giving information, helping law enforcement, and it is done in a very safe way because we don't take anything to identify you," said Crimestoppers Executive Director Darlene Cusanza.
Family members and friends of the two young victims are calling for justice.
"Looks like little children just dying. What is it, the season for children?" Wooldridge said.
"It's time for the police and the detectives, the DA, whoever, to put their foot down with them and start giving them justice," Cary said.
Mayor Mitch Landrieu issued the following statement:
“Within a week’s time, two young lives were taken in our city. Both of these unspeakable tragedies leave behind families who are searching for answers. The NOPD is working around the clock to pursue those responsible for these crimes, now we need the community to come forward with information. The violence in New Orleans won’t be stopped unless everyone gets involved.”