STOCKTON -- It's been almost a week since 3-year-old Melanie Martinez was shot and killed while riding in a car with her mother and grandmother in South Stockton. Police said the girl was in the wrong place at the wrong time when the gunman opened fire near the intersection of Commerce and Jackson Streets.
As police investigate, many in the community are calling for a change in their city. A citywide prayer movement was held Saturday morning calling for an arrest in the case and peace on the streets.
Kids and parents alike came out to the park across the street from the Stockton Memorial Civic Auditorium, hoping the person or people who know who shot Melanie come forward. The reward for information is now up to $25,000, more than double what it was just a few days ago.
"We think that that's a significant figure to get someone to bring out some pretty good tips," said Stockton Mayor Anthony Silva, who acknowledges whoever comes forward could be at risk. "Family that comes out with this information more than likely is going to need to rent a u-haul, pack up all the stuff in the house, and go start a life somewhere else."
But neighbors who came out today refuse to give up on their city.
"The police are easily outnumbered by criminals, but if we get together as a community, we can outnumber the criminals," said Freesia Hackett, who organized the Stockton citywide prayer.
This group believes Melanie's case highlights the dangers which have been a problem on Stockton's streets for years.
"People need more courage to speak up," Hackett said.
But for the time being, they're praying Melanie gets justice.
Stockton police are searching for a vehicle of interest in this case. It's described as either a black Chevy Monte Carlo with tinted windows or a black or dark-colored Chevy Camaro.
Anyone with more information is asked to call the Stockton Police Department at
(209) 937-8377 or Crime Stoppers at (209)946-0600.
The family has set up a GoFundMe account to raise money to cover the cost of Melanie's funeral.