Police are now offering a $20,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the people responsible for the murder of a West Philadelphia woman.
Friends say Zykia Sanders, 22, was leaving a birthday party on Saturday, just after 2 a.m. She and a group were walking to a store when suddenly, several unknown suspects in a four-door sedan fired several shots, according to investigators.
Police say 15 to 20 shots were fired and one of them struck Sanders as she tried to run away. Sanders was found along the 4000 block of Holden Street outside of an apartment complex. She was taken to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania where she was pronounced dead at 2:35 a.m.
Credit: Family Photo
Police believe Sanders was an innocent bystander in the wrong place at the wrong time.
"Whoever these individuals were shooting at was probably in the crowd and came from the party," said Captain James Clark of the Philadelphia Police Department. "But what we do know is Zykia was not the intended target."
The family of Sanders tells NBC10 she was a student at the University of Phoenix and was due to graduate next year. Sanders was staying with her grandmother who had been ill.
"She was just being there for grandma," said Zykia's grandmother Barbara Sanders while in tears. "She'd do anything for grandma. That was my first granddaughter. My heart is broken. I heard the shots at 2:30. I looked out my window and I heard everybody running saying, 'Oh my God, Zykia got shot!' Then the officer came. When he came to my door he said, 'I'm sorry, she didn't make it.'"
"Zykia had such a bubbly personality," said Helen Sanders, Zykia's cousin. "She was so fun to be around. She had no children. She didn't bring any stress or drama to the family."
The family plans to make funeral arrangements. They also say they believe Zykia's killer will be caught soon.
"The violence has to stop in the city," said Shakoor Sanders, Zykia's uncle. "Young people, we have to really take command of our communities and stop the senseless stuff."
On Sunday around 6 p.m., friends and family gathered at the scene of the crime for a candlelight vigil in Zykia's honor.
"Everybody loved her," said Shameka Stewart, Zykia's friend. "Everybody knew her from each building. We loved her. It's like a nightmare. I just keep wishing that I could wake up."
Witnesses tell police that the suspects fled the scene in a car. Police are checking local businesses for surveillance video tape.
On Monday police announced a $20,000 reward for anyone with information leading to the arrest and conviction of the people responsible for Sanders' death.
If you have any information on this incident, please call Philadelphia Police.