Sheriff To Give Update In Shooting Death Of 7-Year-Old Girl; Vigil Set For Tuesday Night

Aug 14, 2018

Sheriff Mike Williams, Mayor Lenny Curry and State Attorney Melissa Nelson are set to address the media in reference to an update in the investigation of the shooting death of 7-year-old Heydi Rivas-Villanueva Tuesday at 3 p.m.

Heidy was excited to start first grade Monday at Sadie T. Tillis Elementary School, according to family and friends.

Now, the 7-year-old girl’s family and friends will gather at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the 103rd Street parking lot where a stray bullet took her life Saturday night to remember the child who was just waiting with her father and 2-year-old brother for their mother to return from a shopping trip.

The “Justice for Heidy” memorial will be in the parking lot near El Tapatio in the 7900 block of 103rd Street, where the girl was shot. Family and friends ask everyone to wear white clothing and carry signs saying ”#JusticeforHeidy.” They are also asking for donations so the child can be buried back in Honduras, where she was born and her family was from, according to their GoFundMe page.

“She was a very sweet and lovely girl,” the fundraising page says. “She loved playing dolls. She was very close with her father. Everywhere he went, she used go with him. She never left his side. She always told her mother she had a dreamed to continue studies and have a career so she (mother) would no longer work.”

The father had dropped his wife off about 6 p.m. at El Tapatio to buy groceries when the child was shot, Sheriff Mike Williams said during a Sunday news conference. About 70 feet away in an adjacent parking lot, two people walked up to a dark sedan and had a confrontation with its driver that ended with gunfire, the sheriff said.

Thirteen to 15 shots were fired “relatively quickly,” the sheriff said. The family’s statement on GoFundMe said the two men went behind the family’s car “for protection and continued shooting,” and that’s when one bullet hit the family car and Heidy inside.

The girl’s mother, Beatriz Villanueva, told news partner First Coast News through an interpreter Sunday what happened next.

“When I was paying, my husband ran inside and screamed, ‘They killed my little girl,’” Villaneuva said. “When I went outside, she was already in his arms and he started running toward the hospital.”

The family had moved from Honduras nearly four years ago to get away from the violence there, said family friend Yoselin Guerra, who translated for Heidy’s mother.

Williams announced an $11,000 reward Sunday from First Coast Crime Stoppers for information leading to the arrest of whoever killed Heidy. She was the fourth person under 18 killed this year in Jacksonville.

The other victims were Tashawn Gallon, also 7, who was shot and killed in crossfire, Marquette Arnaud Clark, 16, and Darryl Lamar Johnson, 14. Last year, 15 of the city’s homicide victims were younger than 18, according to the Times-Union’s Homicide Tracker at jacksonville.com/homicides.

After the shooting, the two men ran, fleeing in a green early-to mid-2000s Nissan Altima that police believe has a bullet hole in the upper part of the windshield. A passing motorist drove the gravely injured girl and her father to nearby Park West ER, where she was taken to Wolfson Children’s Hospital, only to be pronounced dead at 8:49 p.m.

The Sheriff’s Office has released a large amount of surveillance video of two men detectives say are wanted for questioning in the shooting, as well as images of cars whose drivers might have witnessed it.

Meanwhile, a family who bought school supplies for a daughter happy to go to school “are preparing a funeral for her little girl,” the GoFundMe page says.

“She was at wrong place at wrong time,” it said.

Anyone with information on the shooting can contact the Sheriff’s Office at (904) 630–0500 or email JSOCrimeTips@jaxsheriff.org. To remain anonymous and receive a possible reward up to $3,000 contact Crime Stoppers at 1–866–845–TIPS.

Now, the 7-year-old girl’s family and friends will gather at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the 103rd Street parking lot where a stray bullet took her life Saturday night to remember the child who was just waiting with her father and 2-year-old brother for their mother to return from a shopping trip.

The “Justice for Heidy” memorial will be in the parking lot near El Tapatio in the 7900 block of 103rd Street, where the girl was shot. Family and friends ask everyone to wear white clothing and carry signs saying ”#JusticeforHeidy.” They are also asking for donations so the child can be buried back in Honduras, where she was born and her family was from, according to their GoFundMe page.

“She was a very sweet and lovely girl,” the fundraising page says. “She loved playing dolls. She was very close with her father. Everywhere he went, she used go with him. She never left his side. She always told her mother she had a dreamed to continue studies and have a career so she (mother) would no longer work.”

The father had dropped his wife off about 6 p.m. at El Tapatio to buy groceries when the child was shot, Sheriff Mike Williams said during a Sunday news conference. About 70 feet away in an adjacent parking lot, two people walked up to a dark sedan and had a confrontation with its driver that ended with gunfire, the sheriff said.

Thirteen to 15 shots were fired “relatively quickly,” the sheriff said. The family’s statement on GoFundMe said the two men went behind the family’s car “for protection and continued shooting,” and that’s when one bullet hit the family car and Heidy inside.

The girl’s mother, Beatriz Villanueva, told news partner First Coast News through an interpreter Sunday what happened next.

“When I was paying, my husband ran inside and screamed, ‘They killed my little girl,’” Villaneuva said. “When I went outside, she was already in his arms and he started running toward the hospital.”

The family had moved from Honduras nearly four years ago to get away from the violence there, said family friend Yoselin Guerra, who translated for Heidy’s mother.

Williams announced an $11,000 reward Sunday from First Coast Crime Stoppers for information leading to the arrest of whoever killed Heidy. She was the fourth person under 18 killed this year in Jacksonville.

The other victims were Tashawn Gallon, also 7, who was shot and killed in crossfire, Marquette Arnaud Clark, 16, and Darryl Lamar Johnson, 14. Last year, 15 of the city’s homicide victims were younger than 18, according to the Times-Union’s Homicide Tracker at jacksonville.com/homicides.

After the shooting, the two men ran, fleeing in a green early-to mid-2000s Nissan Altima that police believe has a bullet hole in the upper part of the windshield. A passing motorist drove the gravely injured girl and her father to nearby Park West ER, where she was taken to Wolfson Children’s Hospital, only to be pronounced dead at 8:49 p.m.

The Sheriff’s Office has released a large amount of surveillance video of two men detectives say are wanted for questioning in the shooting, as well as images of cars whose drivers might have witnessed it.

Meanwhile, a family who bought school supplies for a daughter happy to go to school “are preparing a funeral for her little girl,” the GoFundMe page says.

“She was at wrong place at wrong time,” it said.

Anyone with information on the shooting can contact the Sheriff’s Office at (904) 630–0500 or email JSOCrimeTips@jaxsheriff.org. To remain anonymous and receive a possible reward up to $3,000 contact Crime Stoppers at 1–866–845–TIPS.