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Girl, 11, Is Killed in Drive-By Shooting That Targeted Teenager

The Syracuse police were searching on Tuesday for the assailant in a drive-by shooting that killed an 11-year-old girl who lived nearby as she was apparently walking home after buying milk.

The shooting on Monday night occurred at an intersection in the city’s Southside neighborhood just opposite an elementary school named for Martin Luther King Jr., on a holiday named for the slain civil rights leader.

The police said the assailant shot the girl, hitting her in the midsection, and also an unidentified 19-year-old man, who was hit in the leg. He survived.

The girl, identified by the authorities as Brexialee Torres-Ortiz, was transported to a nearby hospital where she was pronounced dead, the police said. Photographs on local media showed a gallon of milk, spilled on its side, at the location of the murder.

Mayor Ben Walsh expressed anguish at the shooting, which he called “senseless” and “brutal.”

“It has shaken this community to the core,” Mr. Walsh said, during a Tuesday afternoon news conference. “This young lady did nothing wrong. Her family did nothing wrong.”

William Fitzpatrick, the district attorney for Onondaga County, said on Tuesday that the shooting could be gang-related, and that the 19-year-old who was shot was the target of the attack, in what he called a “one-way fusillade” near the young victim’s house.

“This poor little angel,” Mr. Fitzpatrick said, adding, “She just goes out to get a quart of milk for her family.”

But, he added, the 19-year-old victim did not appear to be cooperating with investigators, something that galled Mr. Fitzpatrick, whose office will be responsible for prosecuting the crime.

Mr. Fitzpatrick said he was shocked that if the young man was “aware that an 11-year-old took a bullet meant for him,” he would still choose not to cooperate.

Like several other upstate New York cities, Syracuse has been confronting an uptick in gun violence, leaving local leaders struggling to reassure residents.

Daren C. Jaime, the pastor at People’s A.M.E. Zion Church, said he had been at the hospital with the victim’s mother after the girl died.

“We ought to be able to walk the streets in peace,” he said, “and a child should be able to go to the store and not have a parent wonder whether or not they’re ever going to make it home safe.”

Mr. Jamie, who is also the chaplain for the Syracuse Police Department, added that the city had seen an increasein shots fired and also people being hit.”

“We’re seeing a national problem on a local level,” he said.

Mr. Jaime added that the location and timing of the killing — on Martin Luther King’s Birthday, near a street named for him — was particularly jarring.

“If anything, Dr. King challenged us to be a voice for the voiceless,” he said. “And the community must continue to be a voice for the voiceless and for this family that’s been tragically impacted.”

During Tuesday’s news conference, Chief Joseph Cecile of the Syracuse Police Department said Brexialee had been a fifth grader — president of her class — with a stellar reputation in school and an interest in dance. She was shot about 100 yards from her apartment, Chief Cecile said, adding that authorities had “fairly good camera footage” of the scene of the shooting.

The chief also pleaded for assistance from the public, saying “we know there’s folks out there right now that very likely know who the shooter was.”

“I would like to see some tips come in,” Chief Cecile said.

There was an outpouring of grief online, where teachers and friends offered tributes to Brexialee.

“The world we live in is crazy,” wrote one woman, India Jenkins, on Facebook. Ms. Jenkins, a teaching assistant who knew the victim from school, said Brexialee was “an amazing student just finding out who she was and how far life could take her.”

Ms. Jenkins added that the young girl was “sassy but sweet” and “loved by many.”

“She didn’t deserve this fate,” she wrote. “No one does.”

Kitty Bennett contributed research.

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