PONTIAC, Mich. (WXYZ) — The mayor of Pontiac is on a mission to crack down on crime in the community following the tragic death of a 7-year-old girl who was shot while sitting in a parked car during a drive-by.
Being present at Wednesday's town hall meeting inside Robert Bowens Center was important for the Jackson family.
“She was just as a daughter to me as she was to her own mother," Dashawn Jackson said.
Jackson is 7-year-old Ariah's aunt and her mother's twin sister.
“She was at my house all day. Everyday. I picked them up from school in the mornings," she said.
Jackson didn't realize her last bus drop off Friday morning would be the last time she saw her niece.
Friday afternoon moments after Ariah got off the bus, the Oakland County Sheriff's Office says Ariah was killed in a drive-by shooting. She was sitting in the back seat of a car.
Investigators believe this incident is gang related.
7 Action News was told there were three other children in the car at the time of the shooting, but they weren't hurt.
The other kids were Jackson's children.
“If you know anything, speak up. Just speak up for Ariah’s sake," Jackson said.
Speaking up for the first grader who loved to read and dance was the message at the town hall hosted by Pontiac Mayor Tim Greimel.
Several community leaders also joined the conversation encouraging neighbors to be proactive and engaging to help the fight against gun violence.
People in the audience also wrote questions for speakers on the panel.
The mayor says he's working on looking for a permanent location for a proposed youth center.
Greimel also reminded the community that the city does have six officers engaging in the community policing but needs the communities help to fight crime.
“It's crazy — you can’t go get your kids from the bus stop," Ariah's grandmother Lateasha Garrett said.
Garrett says she's all cried out and all she wants is justice for her granddaughter.
“It's senseless. It’s really senseless. It’s senseless we got to bury our baby," she said.
To help the family with funeral expenses, they've set up a fundraiser. To donate, visit their GoFundMe page.