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Family Pleads For Help In Fatal Drive-By

MIAMI (CBS4) -- A drive-by shooting in Miami by men using an assault rifle claimed a 3rd victim: a teenage mother who struggled to survive while being treated at Jackson Memorial Hospital.

Her loved ones spoke out Tuesday and asked for the public's help in solving this crime and planned to attend a candlelight vigil at 8 p.m. at the scene of the crime.

"Nobody wants to see their child suffer or go through what she did," said Shirlena Shepherd, the mother of 17-year-old Jaykia Pitts, who was riddled with bullets fired from an assault weapon at 12:38 a.m. on Sunday, July 17th at the corner of N.W. 5th Ave. and 54th Street next to the Bawa Food Market.

Police say she was an innocent bystander. The shooting also took the lives of 29-year-old Demetrius Owens, who was Pitts' boyfriend and the father of their one-year-old daughter, Armani. Rudolph Sawyer, 23, of Miami was also killed. It's not known why they were shot. Sawyer's loved ones say he had a 6-year-old son. A fourth person, a man in his twenties, was also wounded.

Surveillance tape captured the gunmen fleeing in a stolen car that was later found by police. They still have no good description of the suspects but police are receiving some tips after a public plea for help by the families on July 19th.

"No mother wants to see their child suffer or go through what she did," said Shepherd. "She lost a kidney, her left leg, her spleen. She fought for three weeks but it was just too much."

Pitts' loved ones spoke with CBS4's Peter D'Oench at her grandmother's home in Miami.

"The thing that upsets me is that my granddaughter died so senselessly," said Ivery Walker, Pitts' grandmother. "Young children getting access to assault weapons. Young children. That makes no sense to me. How are they available? The average adult can't even get a gun."

"She lost her leg. She lost a kidney. Her body was riddled. They say it was like she stepped on a land mine. She was blown to pieces," said Walker. "She was hit by 12 bullets. All you youngsters out there, get it together. Start thinking about the quality of your life. Just think of the parents. It could have been your child. It could have been your kid."

"She didn't deserve this," said Walker. "She was not an angel. But she was a good kid. She did what she had to do."

Jaykia's mother is pleading with the community in this case.

"Hopefully someone will come forward and say something, say anything, say anything they know," said Shepherd. "I have no clue why they did this. She didn't deserve this. If you have a heart, come forward. If you have a conscience, turn yourself in."

"It could be your children, your father, your mother laid out there," said Pitts' aunt, Corina Shepherd. "You don't have to tell us your name, just come forward. Justice will be served. If you are watching this, you will be caught."

Pitts' death was also deeply upsetting to veteran Miami Police detective Confesor Gonzalez.

"She endured incredible pain for so long. She fought a fierce battle for so long and in the end she lost," said Gonzalez.

Gonzalez told D'Oench, "It could be anybody's family. If there are people out there who heard something or saw something, call us. What happened is unacceptable. I for one would really like to get the public's help to solve this."

Family members say funeral services for Jaykia Pitts will be held this Saturday at 1 p.m. at Faith Missionary Baptist Church at 10401 N.W. 8th Ave.

Anyone with information about this case is urged to call the Police Department's Homicide Unit at (305) 603-6350 or Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at (305) 471-TIPS (8477).

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