The mother of 18-year-old Makayla Maree Harris, who was shot and killed in a gang-related mass shooting in downtown Portland this past summer, pleaded for anyone “who knows who did this” to come forward as the FBI announced a reward of up to $25,000 for information that leads to an arrest.
“I will not stop seeking justice for my baby girl Makayla Maree Harris,’’ said her mother, Felicia Martinez, in a statement read Thursday by the lead agent of the FBI in Oregon.
“To the coward that took my baby from me, you will pay for what you did because I will not lay down, and I will never stop fighting for my baby girl.”
The FBI expects to roll out similar rewards for information in other unsolved homicide cases as Portland is on the brink of equaling its all-time peak of 70 homicides, last recorded in 1987. So far this year, 69 people have been killed, of which three-quarters resulted from shootings
The FBI, working with local and federal police and prosecutors, have tried to select cases “where they absolutely have hit a brick wall,’’ said Kieran L. Ramsey, special agent in charge of the FBI in Oregon.
Ramsey said witnesses to gang-related shootings – and even victims of shootings – often scatter and refuse to cooperate with police. He recognizes they may be distrustful of police or fear retaliation.
“But, in the end, if we don’t have people come forward and find the will to provide us that information to stop this killing, we know it’s going to continue,” he said.
Harris had graduated from Grant High School the month before she was fatally shot on July 17 while hanging out with friends downtown.
Harris and her friends were standing near the food cart row along Southwest Third Avenue near Harvey Milk Street about 2 a.m. when someone fired a hail of bullets at the crowd in the suspected gang-related, drive-by shooting.
Another man in the crowd, believed to have had ties to the Blood gang, was the intended target and not hit, according to investigators and relatives.
Harris died of a gunshot wound to the chest, her aunt has said.
Six other people were wounded, but police and the FBI have declined to identify them, their ages or genders. Ramsey said those wounded were bystanders, not intended targets.
The mother of one of the wounded said Harris was among four young women who were hanging out that night, and three of them were shot. She said her daughter was wounded, and she doesn’t understand why.
“My prayer is that someone’s conscience will bring them to speak up for Makayla and the friends she was with that night whose lives have been forever affected by the events of this day,” the mother of the wounded woman wrote in a statement released by the FBI. The mother did not want to be identified.
Ramsey said public safety in the city “has degraded to a significant extent that people are scared, and they shouldn’t be.”
In April, Portland police teamed up with FBI agents and surrounding law enforcement agencies as part of an FBI-led Metro Safe Streets Task Force to investigate the ongoing shootings.
“We’re doing everything we can to respond to them, but at the same time we need the community to step forward and we need these victims to come forward,” Ramsey said. “If you know something about this little girl’s murder, you need to come forward.”
Harris’ cousin, Kyla Duncan, 19, and three friends joined with the FBI at Dawson Park – the scene of another unsolved homicide this year – in pleading for information to help police make an arrest in Harris’ killing.
“Makayla was an amazing person. She did not deserve this,” said Bryanna Lamberth, her friend. “To anyone who knows anything, please just come forward. Give them justice. Let their mind be at peace. We have laid Makayla to rest. But we also need justice.’’
If anyone has information, witnessed any part of what happened or has video of what occurred either prior to, during, or after the shooting, they are asked to contact Portland police by emailing email@example.com. They can also call the FBI at (800) CALL-FBI or reach the FBI through tips.fbi.gov.
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