By Phil Corso and Christina Santucci
Police in South Jamaica put out a $22,000 bounty on the suspect wanted for shooting and killing a 14-year-old girl on a city bus last weekend with hopes to bring justice to a wounded community.
D’aja Robinson, 14, was shot in the head around 8:30 p.m. Saturday as she sat near the back of an idling Q6 bus near the intersection of Rockaway and Sutphin boulevards when an unknown gunman pumped at least nine rounds into it from the outside, cops said. The girl, nicknamed “Asia,” had just left a nearby Sweet 16 party with friends when she boarded the bus just six blocks away from her home.
The shooter fled into nearby Baisley Pond Park and has remained at large, but investigators said they were pursuing leads that may relate to gang member activity, the NYPD said.
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Police Commissioner Ray Kelly described the suspect as a man wearing a black sweater between the ages of 18 and 25. He also said D’aja was not likely the intended target in the shooting.
At the scene, officers recovered nine .40-caliber shell casings on the ground outside the bus D’aja was aboard, the NYPD said. No arrests had been made and the investigation was ongoing as of early Wednesday evening.
Days after D’aja’s death, the 113th Precinct Community Council announced a $22,000 reward for any information leading to the arrest and indictment of those responsible.
A makeshift memorial was resurrected at the Q6 bus stop where D’aja was killed with an outpouring of messages, candles, flowers, balloons and a stuffed dog.
“D’aja, Mommy loves you 4ever,” read one of the messages with the girl’s birthday and date of her death written underneath.
Friends there remembered Asia as an upbeat and outgoing girl who loved to dance.
Chris Jones, 20, described D’aja as a girl with a stand-out personality who adored R&B music.
“I just put a candle,” Jones said. “I just think something has to change over here. Every day there is a new shooting.”
The girl’s tragic and untimely death also spurred reactions from throughout the city. City Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan) and Councilman Ruben Wills (D-Jamaica) went to the scene of the crime Tuesday alongside neighbors and family members, including D’aja’s mother, Shadia Sands, for a vigil and rally to curb gun violence in New York.
“That a 14-year-old girl was shot to death for no other reason than having the misfortune of being in the wrong place at the wrong time is outrage enough,” Quinn and Wills said in a joint statement. “But even more outrageous is knowing that the pain D’aja’s family feels is all too common, and that until Congress strengthens our nation’s gun control laws, more families will suffer the injustice of losing a child to gun violence.”
Less than 24 hours after D’aja’s death, a relative of Kevin Miller, a 13-year-old Jamaica boy who was shot and killed in 2009 after being caught in a gang-related crossfire, visited the girl’s family to offer her condolences.
“There is really nothing you can say at a time like this,” the relative said. “I just wanted to be there for them.”
Kevin, who went to the same school as D’aja at the Campus Magnet Complex in Cambria Heights, was walking home after going for a snack at McDonald’s when two nearby Queens Crips members initiated a gang shootout with rival Bloods gang members, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said.
Gang members Gregory Calas, 21, and 19-year-old Nnonso Ekwegbalu were sentenced to 50 years in prison in February.
Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4573.