Toddler loses eye; arrest made in SI shooting

September 15, 2011 2:06:36 PM PDT
A 19-year-old man is under arrest after prosecutors say he shot a 21-month-old girl in the face on Staten Island.

The child, identified as Samaya Bailey, was in her stroller when the bullets started flying at the Arlington Houses on Holland Avenue in the Mariners Harbor section Wednesday afternoon.

Samaya was eating a lollipop and a chocolate bar, playing with her sister's hair when she was shot in the temple. The bullet exited right between her eyes.

"God is gonna work it out, and my grandbaby's going to be fine and everything," grandmother Patricia Mahoney said. "And I know that, cause I have faith in God."

Police believe the motive for the incident was an ongoing dispute with Samaya's uncle.

Doctors say the toddler will lose an eye to the bullet that hit her in the face while she sat in her stroller in a playground, surrounded by family members.

"We screamed. I wanted to kill whoever did it," one witness said. "We scooped up the baby and we called 911, but they didn't act like they were coming fast enough, so we threw the baby in the car with us."

With blood gushing from the Samaya's wound, her family rushed her to Richmond University Medical Center. She's already undergone a series of operations, with more to come.

Police say the gunshot was meant for someone else, and police say the gunman simply got in a car and drove away. But a short time later, police stopped a car and took four men into custody. One of them, they say, fired the shot that hit Samaya.

That suspect has been identified as 19-year-old Damark King. He is charged with criminal possession of a weapon, criminal use of a firearm and reckless endangerment.

Two of the men in the car with King have been released. The fourth is being held on an unrelated warrant.

People at the Arlington Houses say gunfire is common in the area.

"We really don't have no choice, this is the only playground we got," one young mother said. "And I mean, I'd just be so nervous coming out here."