TAMPA, Fla. - Authorities are offering a $5,000 reward to find the gunman who opened fire into a family's car as they slept in a Tampa parking lot early Wednesday morning. Police say the father, pregnant mother, and their three young children are homeless — and the shooting appears to be a random act of violence against them.
"Unfortunately we aren’t coming up with a lot, but we know someone out there knows who hurt this family," said Chief Mary O'Connor. "Everything indicates that this is random and that is disturbing."
Damage and bullet holes after someone fired shots into this rental vehicle where a family of five was sleeping.
The shooting occurred around 4:30 a.m. near 2200 North Oregon Avenue. T-shirts were strung up around the vehicle windows with a sun visor at the front, allowing them to sleep by blocking out daylight. Inside were the parents, a 3-year-old girl, a 4-year-old boy, and a 9-year-old girl.
The father woke up and saw the headlights of the suspect vehicle. Chief O'Connor said he yelled for "everyone to get down."
A bullet grazed the mother's head. She is 9 weeks pregnant and is expected to be OK.
Aerial view of shooting scene along Oregon Street in Tampa.
Chief O'Connor said the family used to live in Tampa, but moved out of state. They returned to the city and had only been here for three days.
There’s a family member nearby who didn’t have room for them, the police chief explained, so they ended up sleeping in a rental car. The children are currently staying with the relative while the parents are at St. Joseph's Hospital while the mom recovers.
As of Wednesday, police are scanning the area for any leads. They are pleading for the public to call CrimeStoppers of Tampa Bay with any information. The number is 1-800-873-8477. A $5,000 reward is being offered for tips leading to an arrest.
Chief O'Connor said a witness spotted a dark-colored car, and detectives obtained a possible photo of the car. Anyone who recognizes the car is asked to call TPD or Crime Stoppers.
Courtesy: Tampa Police Department
It's unclear how many people may have fired shots at the car.
"Homelessness is a problem in the United States. This family is down on their luck and living in their car for the past few days," the police chief said. "Our homeless liaisons and other departments work with the family this morning to come up with a voucher for Choice properties to put them up for the next week or more. So we do have a place for the family to go once they're released from the hospital."