DURHAM — Warren Williams was taking a bag out to the trash can that sits on the edge of his front yard on Faucette Avenue early Thursday evening when he heard two little girls screaming, “Help me! Help me!”
“They had their arms up,” said Williams, who moved to the street months ago. “I saw a guy running back and forth to the fence and then back in the house.”
While Williams was dialing 911, police officers arrived at the home across the street, a one-story gray-sided house with a chain link fence. Inside, officers found a 13-year-old girl who had been critically injured by at least one gunshot.
Police reported on Friday that the shooter was a 15-year-old boy who is related to the victim. Neighbors say the children are siblings.
Emergency workers rushed the 13-year-old girl to Duke University Hospital. Investigators have not yet disclosed the victim’s name, but children in the neighborhood said her first name is “Emily.” “I met her one day,” said Kayla Pulley, a 10-year-old fourth-grader who lives in the neighborhood. “She came over to my house and said she wanted to be my friend. I said, ‘Sure.’ ”
Police have charged the boy as a juvenile with assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury. He is being held in a Wake County juvenile facility.
No one was home Friday at 1932 Faucette Avenue. Someone had left a front porch light on. The mailbox was open. Evidence of children who live at the home was scattered throughout the front and back yards – a tattered trampoline, parked bicycles. But the place was quiet.
On a 911 recording made public Friday by the Durham Police Department, one woman can be heard screaming hysterically while another female sobbed. “Somebody just got shot,” the 911 caller told an emergency dispatcher. “Please come quick. She’s 13. Can you please come quick?”
The caller told the dispatcher the girl was not conscious but that she appeared to be breathing. The phone went dead when the dispatcher started to tell the caller how to stop the bleeding.
Neighbors say that when the police arrived, the boy was taken to a patrol car, where he sat inside the vehicle with the door open, throwing up repeatedly. They say the children’s mother sat on the porch sobbing while another little girl patted her shoulder.
Police say they are still trying to determine what led to the shooting. Neighbors wonder how a 15-year-old managed to get hold of a firearm. Kayla, the fourth-grader, said the boy was playing with the gun. “They have guns in the house,” she said. “I seen about 10 in the closet.”
The shooting is the second involving youth in less that a month. On Oct. 16, police say Nelson Pinto, a 17-year-old who lives on the same street, shot a 68-year-old man, Kenneth Harris, while he was doing yard work at his home in the 2100 block.
Harris and other neighbors say the street, with its modest, working-class homes and well-kept lawns, had been peaceful until recently. They think gang activity is trying to take root in the East Durham neighborhood. Two oak trees on opposite ends of the street had been recently spray-painted with gang graffiti. Christina Jones, who lives next door to Harris, said her husband used an ax to chop the bark off the tree in their front yard to remove the gang scrawl. Someone used dark brown paint to cover blue marking on the other tree.
Harris said the Thursday shooting caught him by surprise. “It was 3:30 in the afternoon,” said a recovering Harris. “Two girls walked past and then this boy behind them walked past my mailbox. A white van drove up, and somebody stuck a gun out the window and shot six times. But they didn’t hit the boy. They hit me.”
Harris rolled up the blue shirt he was wearing to display bullet wounds in his arm near his elbow and another that grazed his back. Police have said that Harris was not the intended target. “The kid came by and apologized,” Harris said. “He said, ‘They weren’t shooting at you. They were shooting at me.’ ”
That youngster, Harris said, was the same boy arrested Thursday in the girl’s shooting.
Researcher Peggy Neal contributed to this report.