8-year-old girl shot inside her home in Durham; 11-year-old boy injured

Two children were taken to the hospital after bullets pierced their home early Monday morning, according to police.

An 8-year-old girl and 11-year-old boy were inside when they were injured around 12:30 a.m. on the 600 block on McNeil Lane in the Franklin Village community, according to the Durham Police Department.

Police initially thought both children had been shot, but they later learned the girl had been shot in the back and the boy’s arm had been injured by debris, a news release stated.

The shooting is connected to a disturbance on McNeil Lane near Blacknall Street outside the home, a watch commander said.

By dawn, police had surrounded the home, a duplex, with crime-scene tape. There were several bullet holes in one of the second-story windows in the back of the home. An officer on the scene said those bullets came in through the front of the home and exited out the back.

Police are looking for a light-colored SUV believed to be connected to the shooting.

‘Ready to move’

Neighbors interviewed Monday said they are outraged and scared after multiple shootings in the neighborhood so far this summer.

Neighbor Kelly Russell said she was asleep on the her couch when she heard the gunshots and dropped to the floor. Her children, ages 21, 19, and 9, also dropped to the floor, she said.

“They know what to do,” she said.

The rapid gunshots sounded so close that she wanted to go check her car, Russell said.

“I am ready to move,” she said.

Resident Doris Pettiford, 62, was in a deep sleep when the bullets started flying into the neighboring apartment in the two-story duplex.

Her three grandchildren, ages 10, 11 and 13, were also in her home.

At first, she said, she thought someone was hammering.

“I just heard all that banging,” she said. “And that is when I was like, ‘Is that a shooting?’ and I jumped up and ran to see if the kids were OK.”

The kids were awake, she said, and frozen in their rooms.

“They were just traumatized,” she said. “They couldn’t move.”

When the gunfire stopped, the family eased down the stairs and found two bullet marks on their door and the front of the home.

The many bullets also left holes in some of her neighbors’ upstairs balcony rail balusters, even cutting one in half.

Pettiford, who has lived in Franklin Village for about two years, said the community is usually quiet and she typically feels safe by staying inside at night and being aware of her surroundings.

“I try not to be out at certain times of the night because I know people don’t care about life,” she said. “They don’t care about yours. They don’t care about theirs.”

While Pettiford still feels safe, she said, she is going to have to convince her grandchildren.

After the shooting, one had a nightmare that the shooter returned and another crawled in her bed because he was scared to sleep in his room.

“He just said he would feel better if he could sleep close to somebody,” Pettiford said.

Latonya Richardson, 52, has lived in Franklin Village for about six years. She said she doesn’t have any concerns about her safety.

“I mean, shootings are everywhere,” she said. “You can’t escape it.”

According to neighbors and a Durham police report, another shooting was reported in April at an apartment across the street from the duplex. No one was hurt, but the apartment’s screens are still torn where the bullets went into the windows.

Firearm deaths, injuries

In the past five years, more than 220 children and teens in North Carolina have died as a result of gun violence, according to a McClatchy analysis of data compiled by nonprofit news organization The Trace.

In 2016 and 2017, at least another 672 teens and kids in North Carolina went to a hospital for a firearm-related injury and 242 were hospitalized, according to a N.C. Division of Public Health report. Unlike the fatality numbers, the injury numbers include intentional self-harm incidents.

In Durham, 30 youths were hurt from gunfire in 2018, the only year the police had statistics, The News & Observer has previously reported.

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Virginia Bridges covers criminal justice in Orange and Durham counties for The Herald-Sun and The News & Observer. She has worked for newspapers for more than 15 years. In 2017, the N.C. Press Association awarded her first place for beat feature reporting. The N.C. State Bar Association awarded her the 2018 Media & Law Award for Best Series.