FBI Joins Search for Person Responsible for Hammond Toddler's Shooting

"She had barely any opportunity to enjoy life when it was suddenly taken from," said Capt. Ezequiel Hinojosa, chief of detectives

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The FBI is joining an Indiana police department in offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the person responsible for the fatal shooting of a 2-and-a-half-year-old girl in Hammond in late July.

"She had barely any opportunity to enjoy life when it was suddenly taken from," said Capt. Ezequiel Hinojosa, chief of detectives.

The Hammond Police Department will be teaming up with the FBI's elite Gang Response Investigative Team, also known as GRIT, in hopes of finding the person responsible for the young girl's death.

"I want to make that clear for everyone here today and the viewers at home: justice will be served for Jojo and her family and that is a sacred vow," said Danny Youmara, assistant special agent in charge with the FBI.

Jojo Malone was shot while in a car with her mother in Hammond, Indiana, according to police.

Officers were called to the area for a report of shots fired and upon arrival, found a car with the young girl and her mother inside. Jojo had been struck by a bullet "from an unknown location," police said.

The child was first rushed to Community Hospital in nearby Munster, then flown to an unspecified Chicago hospital for treatment, according to police.

The mother was not injured in the shooting but was taken to an area hospital for observation, officials said.

Investigators remained on the scene overnight, laying out evidence markers, using a metal detector in an apparent search for shell casings in the nearby grass and using a helicopter to search from the sky above.

Video of the scene showed at least 10 evidence markers spread across the ground surrounding the car, which had a visible bullet hole in the rear passenger window.

Hammond police said Thursday they are exploring the possibility that Jojo may have been accidentally shot when someone fired off a gun in the area. Still, they said they want the person responsible to come forward.

"That is what we are looking for today - justice for this family," said Lake County Prosecutor Bernie Carter.

Investigators asked anyone with information on the shooting to contact Hammond Police Detective Lieutenant Mark Tharp by calling (219) 852-2988.

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