Jada Page, the 8-year-old who was shot in the head days after her first week of fourth grade, died on Tuesday.
“She’s gone. They were going to pull the plug tomorrow, but her heart started failing today. ... I was praying for a miracle but I guess [God] had his own plan,” Jada’s mother, Dominique Brown, told Miami Herald’s news partner CBS4 through tears. “I see it on TV all the time but I never thought it would be mine.”
Surrounded by family, Brown publicly pleaded for the shooters to step forward.
“I just can’t see … how you can sleep at night knowing you killed my baby...” she said. “Please come forward … somebody tell us something.”
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Just before 5 p.m. Sunday, Jada and her father, James Page, 32, were in his Northwest Miami-Dade front yard — on their way to the movies — when they were both wounded in a drive-by shooting. Jada, near the front porch, was struck in the back of the head and her father was shot in the chest. Page, who is expected to survive, was the target, police said.
“I am saddened by the news of her passing. This gives us more motivation to find the perpetrators and bring justice to the community,” Miami-Dade police director Juan Perez said. “We will mourn together.”
Family friend and community activist Tangela Sears pressed prosecutors to use their full force to bring justice for the Page family.
“My heart goes out to this family. Parents of Murdered Children are heartbroken and speechless over the continued senseless violence,” she said. “My message to the state attorney is to begin to charge these violent offenders and stop the plea deals. Our lives matter.”
For the 48 hours after Jada was shot — as she lay gravely wounded — family members had taken to social media praying for a miracle. Jada’s age and innocence, along with Brown’s powerful pleas and the senselessness of a drive-by shooting had inspired the hashtags #prayforjada and #justice4jada.
Last week, Jada started fourth grade at Sea Castle Elementary School in Miramar wearing a smile, a polo shirt and carrying a pink and black backpack. Her proud mother posted a photo on Instagram. The caption read: “I wonder how her 1st day at a new school is going? I miss her! #4thgrader #my biggirl.”
On Tuesday morning, Brown had offered a Facebook post that spoke to heartbreak, but also resilience.
“Somebody told me last night that it’s things like this that make them not believe in God. But all I got left is my faith,” she wrote on her personal page, with more than 2,800 shares. “The doctors have given up on my baby. Lord, I need the prayer warriors more than ever now.”
The day before, Brown had posted a photo from the hospital of Jada’s tiny hand on Instagram, drawing more than 3,600 likes and 1,400 comments. “I was hoping I woke up and this was all a dream … They say my baby is brain dead and they are taking her off the machines in the morning … The doctors say there are miracles and there is reality,” she wrote. “…I need a miracle by tomorrow morning.”
Brown’s sister, Khadija Brown, said their daughters were inseparable.
“…never saw one without the other since birth. They wake up together, go to school together, come home together,” she wrote in a Facebook post.
Just steps from Page’s house, at Northwest 25th Avenue and 102nd Street, a neighbor and family friend talked about the shooting. She had gone to the hospital on Monday to provide emotional support for the family.
“This baby, Jada. A baby. I want justice for this child,” said the woman, who declined to give her name. “This is an innocent child.”
She remembers looking at recent pictures of Jada playing tennis and a photo of the little girl decked out in all-pink boxing gear.
“Who knows what she could have been. She could have been someone great in life, but how can she be great if you just took that from her family,” she said. “The parents are hurting, the children are hurting — we just need to stop hurting our youth.”
Police are offering a reward of $24,000 to anyone with information that could lead to an arrest.
Anyone with information can call Miami-Dade CrimeStoppers 305-471-TIPS (8477).
WLRN Reporter Nadage Green contributed to this report.