Catawba deputies were called to the shooting just after 11 p.m. along Tate Boulevard SE.
When officers arrived, they found 7-year-old Zakylen Greylen Harris, who had been shot in the neck. Zakylen was rushed to a local hospital where he later died.
Authorities said the boy was riding in the car with his mother and younger brothers, ages 6 and 1. They were not injured in the shooting.
Local authorities are now searching for a suspect vehicle described as a small, dark-colored SUV that was last seen speeding down Tate Boulevard SE.
"I can tell you this, the men and women of the Hickory Police Department will act tirelessly to see that justice is brought to the coward that did this," Hickory Police Chief Thurman Whisnant said during a Thursday morning news conference.
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The Hickory Police Department showed surveillance footage of how the shooting unfolded. In the video, you can see the mother's car turn onto Tate Boulevard before the suspect's car appears.
Detectives are remaining open to all possibilities on how the shooting played out, but Zakylen's mother told police she believes the shooting was the result of road rage.
The mother said she turned her blinker on and accidentally cut off the other vehicle. That's when the suspect pulled alongside the vehicle and yelled something out the window.
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The mother said she didn't hear gunfire but she did see the muzzle flash and a sudden shattering of her back window. That's when she realized her son had been shot in the neck.
Anyone with information on the shooting is asked to contact the Hickory Police Department at (828) 328-5551.
Zakylen is the second child to die to gun violence in the Charlotte area.
Just last week, a 7-year-old girl from Gastonia died after being shot in the head. The night before, an 8-month old girl in Shelby was hit in the lung by a stray bullet.