The death of Donita Elizabeth Henry-Phillips was described as “a senseless crime” by Police Chief William McManus.
Police are searching for suspects in what appears to have been a random shooting Saturday night on the Northeast Side.
Authorities were called to the 5500 block of Walzem around 6 p.m. about a shooting in progress near a Long John Silver’s Seafood Restaurant.
Once there, authorities discovered that people in two vehicles that were traveling in the same direction had been hit by gunfire.
Donita was riding in one vehicle with six other children and one adult when the shots rang out. Emergency medical technicians took her to a local hospital. She died Sunday morning, police said.
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“This was a senseless crime that ended the life of an innocent child,” McManus said Sunday. “Detectives and officers have been working around the clock to gather leads and identify suspects. The criminals responsible will be brought to justice.”
A 35-year-old woman riding in a separate vehicle with two other people was wounded by gunfire. Police said she was in critical but stable condition Sunday afternoon in a local hospital.
Police released few details, but they are investigating a nearby crash. A man who left the restaurant wrecked a vehicle about the same time as the shootings. Reports indicate that he left on foot.
Tributes to Donita poured in on social media Sunday when the child’s identity was released.
She was a cheerleader with the Judson Youth Football Association’s Venom organization. According to information on its site, the JYFA is dedicated to youth sports, including football, cheerleading, baseball and softball, and its members practice in Converse.
The Judson group is affiliated with the Texas Youth Football and Cheer Association, which posted condolences for Donita on its Facebook page as well.
“It is never easy losing a child, and for her to be taken from this earth this way is truly heartbreaking,” the statement read. “The entire TYFA family mourns your loss, and we want to send our thoughts and prayers to Donita’s family and the Venom organization. Rest in Heaven young lady!”
A related youth sports group called Da Breakdown also took to Facebook to honor Donita.
“Yesterday, August 15th, 11-year-old Donita Elizabeth Henry-Phillips was taken from us too soon. Donita was a cheerleader with the Venom organization, she was very loving, caring, and had a smile that could light up a room,” the statement read. “We want to send our thoughts and prayers to the family, and the Venom organization. Rest In Peace Princess.”
A GoFundMe page for Donita indicated that she was going to a grocery store with her family “when someone was shooting in a local parking lot.” The family requested financial help to pay for her funeral and the family car, which was totaled in the shooting, the posting said.
Homicide detectives ask anyone with information about the shooting to call 210-207-7365.
Elizabeth Zavala covers county and state courts in San Antonio. To read more from Elizabeth, become a subscriber. firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter: @elizabeth2863