HOPEWELL, Va. (WRIC) — The City of Hopewell community is reeling after the death of an 8-year-old girl in a drive-by shooting last week.

Authorities said that P’Aris Moore was playing outside with her family members on Freeman Street around 2 p.m. Friday in the Arlington neighborhood. Witnesses reported that a silver, four-door sedan sped by, and a single gunshot was fired, hitting the young girl in the chest.

“It was five other kids out there,” Moore’s mother, Brionna Taylor, said. “But you shot once, and you shooting once means you was looking for an intended target, but you didn’t get that target. You got a child. So you pulled off because you felt bad.”

A Hopewell Police spokesperson told 8News that authorities are working to identify a person or persons of interest. A motive is unknown at this time. That spokesperson also noted that the limited video police have recovered is low quality, but that they are using several other investigative methods to identify the offender or offenders.

According to a release, Moore was rushed to TriCities Hospital where she died from her injury.

Authorities said that the sedan “may be related to the homicide.” However, the investigation is ongoing, and the motive for the shooting is unknown at this time.

On Saturday, the superintendent of Hopewell City Public Schools released a message to the school community on Moore’s death.

Out of respect for the loving family of one of our 3rd grade HEJ students, and in order to properly notify our faculty still out on winter break, we delayed formal notification of the sudden and tragic death of beautiful, Miss P’Aris Moore until today. P’Aris was a precious angel, well known and supported by her elementary school family.

Please join me in keeping her family (to include her siblings at HEJ, CGWMS and HHS), her HEJ family and classmates, our partners in the police department and our entire community in your thoughts and prayers in the difficult days ahead. The senseless gun violence in our city must stop, and as sad as it is, we can only pray that this horrific incident and resulting loss of life will be the catalyst for the change and action we need in Hopewell to get this under control once and for all.

And while I know we are all absolutely heartbroken as we begin to mourn her life and death, may our ONLY New Year’s resolution for 2023 be justice for this sweet baby and a community commitment and plan to ensure this never happens again. My sincerest condolences to all impacted by this tragedy.

I have an especially heavy heart for our HEJ family, privileged to have known, served and loved this beautiful soul taken from us way too soon. Thank you to the faculty and staff for the difference you made in her life during the short time she had on this earth. God help us.

Superintendent Melody Hackney

On Saturday, Interim City Manager Dr. Concetta Manker sent out a special meeting announcement for Hopewell City Council, which will adjourn Thursday to discuss Operation Ceasefire, a partnership to address gun violence in the city.

As the Hopewell community mourns the loss of the young girl, a Sidewalk March to Stop Gun Violence was set for Monday at 6 p.m. at Moore’s elementary school, Harry E. James. There is also a candlelight vigil scheduled for Tuesday at 5 p.m. at the 1700 block of Carolina Avenue, between Wakefield Street and Courthouse Road. That would have been Moore’s 9th birthday.

“I just want to know, why my baby?” Taylor said. “Why I got to grow up without her, and you get to live your life?”

Friday’s shooting happened not far from two other shootings the night before in Hopewell, both of which happened within a mile and an hour and a half of each other. Authorities said they do not know whether any of these shootings are related at this point.

The Hopewell Police Department is requesting that anyone with information on this incident contact authorities at 804-541-2284. Individuals with insight on this crime who would like to remain anonymous may contact the Hopewell Prince George Crime Solvers hotline at 804-541-2202. Authorities noted that a reward of up to $1,000 may be given to individuals with a tip resulting in an arrest.