Anger and silence follow girl's shooting

September 2, 2009 2:40:16 PM PDT
There is growing community outrage following the shooting of a 4-year-old girl in Newark.Newark police canvassed the Betty Shabazz apartment complex on Wednesday following leads on the shooters who fired at each other across a courtyard crowded with kids in broad daylight. A bullet struck the girl in her lower torso.

"I had her laying across my leg and she was just bleeding," Audrey Maliker said.

Maliker cradled the little girl who had been playing with her kids just minutes before the gun violence erupted.

"My babies. My son and my daughter, and nephew were just there with her playing. They came in the house. Five minutes later, the shots came," she said.

At the hospital where she was rushed, the young victim's distraught mother told Eyewitness News this afternoon she doesn't want anyone to know what her child looks like or her condition.

The girl was playing with her friends in a playground when two men who were shooting at each other accidentally hit her in the stomach.

"Only thing I can do right now is to pray for them," neighbor Jamar Barnes said. "Pray for the family."

Barnes is praying for the girl, who had a night no toddler should have. She was caught in the crossfire and then rushed into emergency surgery.

"There's always a lot of violence going on around here," Barnes said. "It's a continuous thing going on, and maybe we could all get together and do something about it."

One person so far is in custody. Rasheed Nelson walked into the emergency room to be treated for a bullet wound to his hand. Detectives believe he was one of the intended targets of a group of people in a silver-colored Audi. The driver of that stolen car got out exchanged gunfire with Nelson and another man in the courtyard.

Despite numerous witnesses no one has come forward to identify the gunmen. It's a point of frustration for residents and for Newark Mayor Cory Booker.

He is furious that neighbors know the people bringing in the guns and the violence, but refuse to name names and speak up.

"This is not a stranger to the community or the neighborhood," he said. "These are people who are known, who have violent histories, who have histories of carrying weapons or being involved in the gang or narcotics trade, who feel they can take up residence in our neighborhoods."

"A lot of people are afraid to get involved in something like that, to say something," Barnes said. "Because they are afraid that they either going to be viewed as a snitch, viewed as basically a threat."

So the cycle of violence then silence continues.

Investigators are still looking for the other two suspects. Anyone with information is urged to call Crime Stoppers at 877-695-8477 or 877-695-4867. Callers can remain anonymous.

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WEB PRODUCED BY: Bill King


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