Michael Quiles, 29, was sentenced on Wednesday, April 24, after earlier being found guilty of second-degree criminal possession of a weapon, ABC7 reported. On March 26, Quiles was acquitted of the more serious charges of first-degree assault and attempted murder.
The victim, Jaheem Hunter, was celebrating his fifth birthday when he was shot in the head.
Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark was cited by PIX11 as saying at the sentencing that “an innocent child’s life has been utterly changed” after being struck by the stray bullet.
“The young victim miraculously survived a gunshot to the head but continues to struggle with the injuries,” Clark said, according to the report.
Doctors who initially examined the boy after the shooting were cited by the Daily Beast as saying he had little chance of survival.
But after multiple surgeries, grueling rehab, and having to re-learn how to walk and talk, Hunter has made a recovery that’s nothing short of miraculous.
At the time of the 2017 shooting, Quiles was on parole after serving six years in prison for kidnapping an Albany woman and torturing her over speaker phone while her brother was forced to listen, according to The Record News.
A few days before the shooting, Quiles had gotten into an argument, during which someone broke his hand with a baseball bat, the Daily Beast reported. Locals familiar with the incident told the publication that after the altercation, Quiles carried a gun.
On June 5, Quiles got into an argument with two men armed with knives, PIX11 reported. He pulled out a handgun and fired several times.
Hunter was walking with his father and sister to his fifth birthday party when one of the bullets from Quiles’s gun hit him in the head.
Doctors cited by the Daily Beast determined the bullet penetrated part of Hunter’s brain, bounced off the inside of his skull and exited.
“Jaheem was just limp, no movement, no life,” said the boy’s sister and legal guardian, Aja Holmes, according to The Daily News. “He just looked dead.”
“The amount of blood I saw coming out of him, I didn’t think he was going to survive,” she said, according to the report.
But the boy defied the odds.
Neil Feldstein, the doctor who performed four surgeries on Hunter’s brain, told The Daily News a year after the shooting that the boy had made incredible progress.
“He was walking. He was playful. He was interactive,” Feldstein told the publication. “It’s pretty remarkable under the circumstances.”
Crime in the United States
Violent crime in the United States has fallen sharply over the past 25 years, according to both the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) and the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS).
The rate of violent crimes fell by 49 percent between 1993 and 2017, according to the FBI’s UCR, which only reflects crimes reported to the police.
The violent crime rate dropped by 74 percent between 1993 and 2017, according to the BJS’s NCVS, which takes into account both crimes that have been reported to the police and those that have not.
“From 1993 to 2017, the rate of violent victimization declined 74 percent, from 79.8 to 20.6 victimizations per 1,000 persons age 12 or older,” the U.S. Department of Justice stated.
Both studies are based on data up to and including 2017, the most recent year for which complete figures are available.
The FBI recently released preliminary data for 2018. According to the Preliminary Semiannual Uniform Crime Report, from January to June 2018, violent crime rates in the United States dropped by 4.3 percent compared to the same six-month period in 2017.
While the overall rate of violent crime has seen a steady downward drop since its peak in the 1990s, there have been several upticks that bucked the trend.
Between 2014 and 2016, the murder rate increased by more than 20 percent, to 5.4 per 100,000 residents, from 4.4, according to an Epoch Times analysis of FBI data. The last two-year period that the rate soared so quickly was between 1966 and 1968.
The property crime rate fell by 50 percent between 1993 and 2017, according to the FBI, and by 69 percent according to BJS.
According to the FBI’s preliminary figures for the first half of 2018, property crime rates in the United States dropped by 7.2 percent compared to the same six-month period in 2017.
As with violent crime, the FBI survey only takes into account crime reported to the police, while the BJS figures include reported and nonreported crime.
Public Perception About Crime
Despite falling long-term trends in both violent crime and property crime, opinion surveys repeatedly show Americans believe that crime is up.
The vast majority of Gallup polls taken since 1993 show that over 60 percent of Americans believe there is more crime in the United States on a national scale compared to the previous year.
Pew Research surveys show similar findings. A survey in late 2016 revealed that 57 percent of registered voters said crime in the nation as a whole increased since 2008, despite both FBI and BJS data showing double-digit drops in violent and property crimes.
Perceptions differed on a national versus local level.
Surveys of perceptions of crime levels on a local scale showed that fewer than 50 percent of respondents in every single Gallup survey done since 1996 believed that crime in their area had risen compared to the previous year.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.