Family and friends are mourning the 7-year-old girl who was shot and killed in Flint.

The funeral service for Zaniyah Burns is at 1 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 19 at the New Haven Missionary Baptist Church in Flint.

Rev. Joseph Jenkins is officiating. Zeniyah's final resting place will be at Sunset Hills Cemetery.

A Flint man has been charged in this shooting.

Jamil Corionte Griggs, 17, was charged with 18 felony counts including first-degree homicide and assault with intent to murder.

Zaniyah was shot in the head about 8 p.m. on Oct. 9. It happened on the 200 block of W. Austin Avenue in Flint.

She was later pronounced dead.

"The shooting death of Zaniyah Burns has shocked and saddened our entire community," Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton said. "Our hearts go out to her family and we will do all we can to seek justice under the law."

Flint police announced they have made several arrests in connection with the shooting.

Police said they do not want to release any more details for fear of compromising the case.

Chief Johnson said his team worked around the clock to get these people off the streets.

"We're pretty confident on what we're standing on right now or else we wouldn't be standing here," Johnson said. "We'd be still be out in the streets doing what we do."

Police believe the suspect or suspects were in the grassy area across the street when they opened fire.

A witness told TV5 he heard several gunshots shortly before 8 p.m.

Johnson said the girls' 16-year-old uncle may have been the target.

Crime Stoppers is offering up to $2,500 for information leading to the arrests of additional suspects. If you know anything you are asked to contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-422-5245.

TV5 has learned Zaniyah was a student at New Standard Academy in Flint. 

"There's a purpose for everything under the sun and we don't know why it had to happen to her, but there is a reason behind it," said June Long, Zaniyah's great-grandmother.

Long said Zaniyah was a happy child who excelled in school and was dearly loved.

"We try to, every time that they're around us, to tell them that we love them," Long said.

Neighbors react to Zaniyah's death

Neighbors are struggling to accept the death of a young girl they often saw around their neighborhood.

"It'd be sad enough if it was a grown person, but a child," said Eugene Smith, neighbor.

Smith lives across the street from where Burns was killed. He said he often saw the second grader playing outside with other kids.

"They would ride up and down the street on their bicycles and stuff and play and carry on like children do play," Smith said.

He admits he worried about the kids' safety, a fear that has come true in the worst possible way.

Community holds vigil

A vigil was held for Zaniyah on Oct. 12.

"Fun, happy go-lucky little girl with a contagious laughter," said Sonya Long, Zaniyah's grandma.

Sonya said Zaniyah was getting ready to take a bath when she was shot.

"I was right here. Heard the shots and I heard my baby. They shot my baby," Sonya said.

Stuffed animals, balloons and candles were left at the scene to celebrate Zaniyah's short, fragile life.

Zaniyah's family knows nothing they do will bring her back, but they are moving forward with her in their hearts.

"That's my beautiful baby. I called her banana pudding. I'm gonna miss seeing her, but she's always with us," Sonya said.

Martin Banks is asking the question many people across Mid-Michigan are asking about the murder of 7-year-old Zaniyah.

"It was shocking. I asked myself, what could a 7-year-old have done to have her life taken," Banks said.

Banks is a funeral director at Sheldon T. Banks Funeral Chapel in Flint.

"It's just senseless. You have a job to do, but your heart goes out to everybody and you just ask the lord for strength," Banks said.

He said his heart goes out to the victim's and the accused families. He said they will both suffer for a long time.

"Looking at the faces in the crowd, looking at the mother, there's nothing you really can say to ease the pain," Banks said.

Banks has been a funeral director for 17 years. He said he has seen this type of tragedy play out more times than he would like. It is something that wears on him every day.

"There goes another pharmacist or doctor or lawyer that our community desperately needs. Both going to jail or the cemetery. And we need to stop the violence," Banks said.

Group aims to stop violence

"It was difficult as a mother, as a grandmother. It was difficult as a resident of north Flint," said Sandra Johnson, project manager at Hamilton Community Health Network.

The organization's mission is to try and reduce crime and violence in the city of Flint.

Johnson said Zaniyah's death fuels her motivation to end the violence.

"Crime is our focus, but we know that it's directly related to poverty and low income, health disparities, educational access," Johnson said.

Johnson is involved in a three-year federally funded study called the Illuminating Community Change Project. It is designed to make Flint safer.

Meanwhile, the news of Zaniyah's death hit close to home for Jeanette Edwards, president of one of Flint's neighborhood associations.

"We've been working so hard to keep our neighborhood safe and the children safe. And it just touched the whole neighborhood," Edwards said.

Edwards said more jobs and activities for kids is also needed to stem the violence in the Vehicle City.

"We need more police. We need more residents to get involved with us, to work together. So we can stop this shooting and all the crime that's in north Flint," Edwards said.

Until that happens, Edwards is making a plea to everyone - don't try and solve your problems with a gun.

"Let's talk it out. Learn how to communicate with each other. I mean, killing somebody, you're ruining two families. Your family and their family," Edwards said.

Copyright 2018 WNEM (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.


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