A 6-year-old girl was hit in the head by a stray bullet during celebratory gunfire in Oakland, California, on New Year’s Eve, according to police.
The girl, whose name has not been released, was playing in her backyard on Thermal Street, near Cherokee Avenue, when someone in the area fired a celebratory shot before 2 a.m., police said, KGO reported.
A family member drove her to a hospital where, after initial treatment, she was then transferred to UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland, reported EBT.
Based on the location of the girl’s wound and other evidence found at the scene, investigators believe she was struck by celebratory gunfire and are trying to determine exactly where the shot was fired from, police said at a press conference.
No other injuries were reported in the area.
“It is very unfortunate that a child was shot during her family’s New Year’s celebration,” Officer Johnna Watson said Tuesday, Jan. 1. “This is a tragic incident and shows the danger of celebratory gunfire.”
The man who threw the party, and who asked to remain anonymous, told KTVU that the shooting occurred just after midnight, reported Fox News.
He said everyone was giving each other hugs when suddenly, the girl, who is friends with his daughter, collapsed in the backyard.
Her father picked her up and realized she was bleeding.
However, he thought it was from falling on the ground. He didn’t realize it was from a bullet.
He took her to the hospital where he first learned that she had been shot. The man said the girl was crying but was alert and conscious.
Police were notified about the shooting at 2 a.m., when the girl arrived at the hospital.
Other neighbors heard the pop-pop-pop of the gunfire echoing in the neighborhood, Fox News reported.
“You could hear all the kids across the street and they were going 5, 4, 3, 2, 1,” added Roxana Perez, a neighbor. “There was screaming and tons of gunshots. I told my husband, ‘Luckily we won’t get hit.’ I’m thinking it came down on her,” she added.
The gunshots were not coming from the house where the girl was playing, Perez said.
Ahead of New Year’s Eve, police around the country urged members of the public not to shoot off guns to celebrate the New Year, especially in densely populated areas.
Police in Kansas City, Missouri, say celebrating with gunshots at midnight is “stupid, illegal, and it endangers life and property.”
In Ohio’s capital city, Columbus police had a similar message, urging that “no one needs to be a victim of falling or inappropriately aimed bullets.”
Such warnings are being echoed by police agencies around the country, including in Indianapolis, Philadelphia, and Tampa, Florida.
In Baltimore, a 14-year-old girl was grazed by a stray bullet during celebratory gunfire and in Atlanta, a 9-year-old boy was shot in the stomach as a result of celebratory gunfire, Fox News Atlanta reported.
“This reinforces why Chief Anne E. Kirkpatrick will be focusing in 2019 on reducing gun violence in the city,” Watson said.
The girl is now in a stable condition. The investigation is still ongoing.
Police and Crime Stoppers of Oakland are offering up to $5,000 in reward money for information leading to the shooter’s arrest.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.