Reward increased to $30K for information in road rage shooting of 9-year-old

HPD Chief Troy Finner said Tilman Fertitta pledged $25,000 to help increase the reward for information in the road rage case.
HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The reward for information in the road rage shooting of a 9-year-old in southwest Houston has been increased to $30,000.

At a press conference Monday morning, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and Houston Police Chief Troy Finner announced the reward increase. According to Finner, $25,000 in additional award money was pledged by Houston entrepreneur Tilman Fertitta.

Both Turner and Finner asked all Houstonians to pray for 9-year-old Ashanti Grant and her family as she remains in the hospital in critical condition.



"I cannot even imagine what they are going through," Turner said. "We are asking the city to pray for this entire family."

"I'm going to refer to her as princess, because that's what she is," Finner said. "She is precious."

Ashanti was shot while heading to the grocery store with her family on the night of Feb. 8. At the press conference Monday, Ashanti's uncle said she was sitting in the back of the car, watching cartoons, when she was shot.

Police said the family was driving around 9 p.m. in the 9800 block of the Southwest Freeway. That's when another driver, who police said was driving a white GMC Denali, cut off the family's vehicle several times. The driver then got behind the family's vehicle and opened fire.

ORIGINAL REPORT: Child shot in road rage incident when family was on the way to grocery store, police say
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Police say the girl and her family were on the way to the grocery store when they got caught in the middle of two racing drivers and one of those drivers shot at them.



Finner said Ashanti's father described the driver of the GMC Denali as a Hispanic male, between 20 and 30 years old. There was possibly also a female passenger in the truck.

"Her young life has been altered forever by a cowardly act and, I underscore that, by someone, a criminal, driving on our streets and freeways, thinking he or she is above the law," Turner said. "And, quite frankly, acting with a callous disregard for human life."

Turner and Finner both had the same message for anyone who may have information about the suspect(s).

"Someone knows who the shooter is, and I encourage that someone to pick up the phone and call Crime Stoppers of Houston with the information police need to make and arrest and charge the shooter," Turner said.

"A message to our suspect, or suspects, the best thing you need to do is turn yourself in," Finner warned. "Every resource we have, and all our law enforcement partners, we're going to come out there and get you into custody."

A representative with Crime Stoppers said if the family's pain isn't enough motivation to do the right thing, hopefully, the increased reward is.

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Ashanti Grant's grandmother said the child's brain swelling is starting to go down. Mayor Turner is expected to provide an update on the road rage case today.



"Crime Stoppers of Houston has 30,000 reasons why somebody should call and report what they know about the suspect that did this," the representative said. "If you have a soul, you would call. But if you're driven by money, we've got it."

Turner revealed at the press conference that he and Finner are working with Houston Public Works, Houston TranStar and HPD to make sure city traffic cameras start recording at all times.

He explained that although there are Houston TranStar cameras around the city, they are currently intended to provide a real-time look around the city.

A TranStar spokesperson confirmed that out of the city's 1,000 cameras, none of them currently record video.

Turner said in the past, the decision was made to not record and store footage from the cameras, to prevent local law enforcement from getting bogged down in civil litigation.

But now, Finner feels that with the increase in violent crime across the city, it is time to start recording.

Turner hopes the initiative will not only work as a reference for tracking down criminals and getting evidence, but also to deter criminals from acting in the first place.

"Everyone needs to work together as a team," Finner said about the efforts to start keeping records of traffic cameras across the city.

TranStar officials confirmed meetings are being scheduled to discuss changing policies.

"Ashanti is going to change some things," said Ashanti's maternal grandfather, Wesley Cassaro. "I never thought it would be my grandbaby and I hate that is it. But, maybe it'll change now."

Over the weekend, Ashanti Grant's grandmother said it appears the 9-year-old is improving.

READ MORE: Brain swelling improving for 9-year-old girl shot in apparent road rage shooting in SW Houston
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Since a shooting that injured a 9-year-old girl, she has been getting a lot of support and encouragement from people in Houston and around the world.



She has been in the hospital since she was shot, and has been in a medically-induced coma for several days since having surgery after the shooting.

"She has improved swelling-wise. The swelling went down a great deal. She's still not out of the woods, but we got something," said Ashanti's grandmother Elaine Grant-Williams.

While Ashanti continues her fight, a GoFundMe has been set up to help her family pay for the expenses as her parents continue to stay by her side.

Contact Crime Stoppers of Houston directly if you have any information related to this investigation. Information leading to the charging and/or arrest of any felony suspects may result in a cash payment. Tipsters must contact Crime Stoppers directly to remain anonymous and to be considered for a cash payment by calling 713-222-TIPS (8477), submitting an online tip at www.crime-stoppers.org or through the Crime Stoppers mobile app.

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