As the search continued Sunday for a gunman who killed a mother of six children in a road-rage shooting on a North Carolina interstate, prayers and financial support have been pouring in from across the country to help her grieving family fund causes "close to her heart," authorities said.
North Carolina homicide investigators have been combing through hours of surveillance video and interviewing potential witnesses in an effort to identify Julie Eberly's killer, who sped away after opening fire on a car in Lumberton, North Carolina, as she and her husband were headed to South Carolina's Hilton Head Island for a wedding anniversary getaway, authorities said.
Robeson County, North Carolina, Sheriff Burnis Wilkins issued a statement on Facebook over the weekend pleading for anyone with information on the shooting to contact his investigators immediately.
"Let’s show others that we won’t tolerate this. This murderous coward must be caught," Wilkins' statement reads. "Please come forward with information that I know someone has. Or better yet, be a man and turn yourself in, as I am sure you will read this. God won’t forget, and we won’t give up on bringing you to justice."
Investigators are asking for the public’s assistance in identifying the driver of a mid-2000 model silver or gray Chevrolet Malibu or Impala with dark tinted windows that they want to question about the shooting, authorities said.
As of Sunday, an online crowdfunding page established by relatives of Eberly, who was from Manheim, Pennsylvania, had raised $37,000. Eberly's relatives said the money raised will go to help organizations that were close to Eberly's heart.
"Julie was a beautiful, loving, generous, and giving person," Eberly's family wrote on the page.
Wilkins said the crowdfunding page was established by Eberly's relatives after he let them know that hundreds of people from across the country had emailed or texted him for information about how they could assist the family.
The sheriff also announced a $10,000 reward for information leading to the capture and prosecution of the killer.
The shooting occurred around 11:40 a.m. Thursday on Interstate 95 in Lumberton after a car Eberly's husband, Ryan Eberly, was driving, merged into traffic and came close to hitting a vehicle, Wilkins said. The vehicle the Eberlys' car nearly struck pulled alongside the couple's car, and the driver opened fire, the sheriff said.
Multiple shots penetrated the passenger-side door and struck Julie Eberly in the front passenger's seat, Wilkins said. Ryan Eberly, who was not injured, immediately pulled over and called 911 as the shooter's vehicle exited the interstate and sped away, the sheriff said.
Wilkins said when deputies arrived on scene, Ryan Eberly was attempting to treat his wife on the passenger side of the vehicle.
Julie Eberly was taken to Southeastern Regional Medical Center in Lumberton, where she was pronounced dead, Wilkins said.
The couple was headed to Hilton Head Island to celebrate their seventh wedding anniversary, which was on March 24, and had left their children behind behind in Pennsylvania with their grandparents, Wilkins said in his statement.
"This was an innocent family from Pennsylvania headed to the beach for a vacation," Wilkins said. "Thankfully, they had left their six children at home with grandparents, but now these kids have to live with the thought of their mother being murdered in such a cowardly and senseless way. My heart goes out to this family, and I ask that everyone reading this stop and pray for this entire family."