A 12-year-old boy is gravely wounded and three others were struck during a shooting at a church playground in North Carolina on Monday.
Police in Rocky Mount, NC are now searching for the man who opened fire at the park around 6 p.m. while nearly two dozen neighborhood teens played basketball on the courts.
Rev. James Gailliard said he heard more than 15 shots before running outside to observe the commotion. Upon reaching the park, Gailliard noticed the 12-year-old, identified as Nyreek Horne, had been shot in the head. He held the boy until help arrived.
“In our community, we do hear gunshots from time to time. But what was different this time was that it was so close and it was so many,” Gailliard said. “I held him in my arms until the paramedics got there. He was shot in the eye and the bullet went out the back of his brain. He was struggling to breathe, but he was fighting.”
Nyreek remains in critical condition as of Tuesday. The reverend, who had never seen the boy prior to the shooting, has since met his family and scheduled a vigil for Tuesday to pray for the boy’s recovery and an end to the violence.
“Unfortunately, in my time have I have funeralized a lot of young African-American males who died in violent situations,” the preacher said. “We put the basketball goals up and took the fence down specifically so the community could just walk on the premises and have a safe place to play. That trust has been violated.”
The other three victims — all males aged 13, 17 and 19 — were treated and released.
Rocky Mount police are asking for the cooperation of members of the church and the community, but witnesses could provide only a vague description of the shooter, who ran away and was seen getting into a small, light-colored SUV.
“We’re experiencing many of the problems many other communities are experiencing with gang violence, and we are addressing that,” said Cpl. Michael Lewis, a police spokesman. “There’s age groups from middle school on up through high school involved in this type of activity.”
Lewis said it is too early in the investigation to know whether the latest shooting involved a gang-related dispute, but Gailliard said there is a widespread suspicion in the community that Monday’s mass shooting was in retaliation for a recent drive-by killing.
The investigation is ongoing. Our prayers are with Nyreek at this time.
SOURCE: AP | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty
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