LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - A seven-year-old boy is recovering, the latest victim of a scary trend in Little Rock.
He was shot in a drive-by Tuesday afternoon while playing outside in his grandmother’s front yard.
“I mean, people do stuff around here every day, all the time. But I didn’t think it would be right here in my yard,” Esther Morrison said.
A couple hours earlier, Morrison was sitting in that yard, holding the youngest of her grandchildren while the others played.
“Eight, seven, seven, five, three and one,” she said, listing the children’s ages.
She saw a vehicle come down Washington Street, heading southbound toward 12th Street. She saw someone she could only describe as a black man who was leaning out the window with a long gun in his hand.
“My reaction was, ‘Run in the house, tell everybody to run in the house,'” she recalled. “But before I could get up out the seat, I fell to the ground with my grand-baby. And I told my grandson to just lay down on the porch, but he had been shot in the arm.”
“[It] always is more difficult when we have a child shot,” said Lt. Steven McClanahan of the Little Rock Police Department. “I have a seven-year-old, so I can definitely understand the grief the parents are going through, but fortunately the kid is going to survive.”
The boy was put in an ambulance and taken to Arkansas Children’s Hospital.
Officers think the intended target was a group of people sitting under a tree right next to Morrison house. But bullets flew through her kitchen window, pierced an open cupboard door, and carved holes in her ceiling. She said she had just finished feeding her grandchildren shortly before the shooting took place.
This was the ninth drive-by shooting in Little Rock in the last five days, and the second on this corner. According to witnesses, another drive-by shooting happened at the intersection of 12th and Washington on June 21. Bullets entered a nail salon, and an employee was nearly hit.
“It’s essential, for this neighborhood, for any neighborhood where there’s crime issues: we have to have community cooperation,” Lt. McClanahan said. “We have to have good witnesses. We have to have people come forward.” He added that several witnesses spoke after Tuesday’s shooting, but he was unsure if they provided any actionable information.
Detectives believe many, if not all, of the recent drive-by shootings are connected; a couple of groups going back and forth, looking for revenge. But as Morrison discovered, they are not just hurting themselves, they are hurting children playing outside on a nice summer day.
“I mean, when are they going to learn?” Morrison asked. “We have innocent kids. But I hope whoever did this: wake up! Because this is, you taking innocent people’s lives, you shooting innocent people. For what reason?”
The shooting occurred a few blocks away from the 12th Street police station. Lt. McClanahan said that the building allows officers to respond to crimes faster, but it does not deter them.
“These shootings are occurring too frequently in this area. We are aware of that as a police department,” he stated. “We’re going to try to look at the logistics and adjust our manpower accordingly.”
He added that the shooter’s vehicle, which he described as a maroon crossover SUV, was spotted at 23rd and Peyton streets, but officers had yet to track it down.