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GIRL, 4, SHOT IN HEAD

By RYAN HAMILTON-DAVIS Thursday, May 22 2014

click on pic to zoom in

A FOUR-YEAR-OLD girl remains warded in hospital with a bullet lodged in her neck after she was shot through the forehead when she and her mother got caught in the middle of a shooting incident on a street in Carenage on Tuesday night.

Doctors at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex (EWMSC) in Mt Hope have told worried relatives of little Sarah Headley that they will monitor her vital signs over the next few days to see how she is responding to treatment before deciding on if and how they can remove the bullet lodged in her neck.

Sarah came face to face with death at about 8.15 pm on Tuesday. At that time, Sarah and her mother Alisha Headley, 24, were sitting in the back seat of a private-hire (PH) taxi en route to their home, with the taxi proceeding west along L’anse Mitan Road in Carenage, when gunshots rang out.

Still in a state of shock over the incident which very nearly cost her daughter’s life, the trembling mother of two, who is a cleaner, yesterday recounted the incident to Newsday, saying she and her child got into the PH taxi asking to be taken to Upper L’anse Mitan where they live.

“There was a car in front of us trying to come out of the lane, so the driver of our car parked up so the other could pass. That was when I heard shots. I saw a thin man whose face was partially covered with a bandana (a large handkerchief) walking outside with a gun in his hand. I was trying to tell my baby who was crying, to hush, because I didn’t want the gunman to hear the crying in the car.

“My hand was over her mouth but she was still crying. When I moved my hand from her face I realised my hand was wet with something. When I looked at my hand, it was covered with my child’s blood. There was blood all over. I did not know she got shot until I saw the blood on my hands. When I raised her up I saw her forehead was all bloody and there was a bullet hole in it. I just started screaming,” Headley said.

It appears, according to police sources, that the gunman’s intended target was in another car proceeding along the narrow road and when he opened fire, the PH driver transporting mother and child, ducked. A stray bullet penetrated the driver’s car seat before hitting little Sarah in her forehead above her nose. It was not known if the gunman’s intended target was shot as that car sped off while the gunman escaped by running away.

Police sources said that had the bullet not struck the driver’s seat first — which reduced its velocity — the unimpeded bullet may have entered and exited the child’s head, most likely killing her on the spot.

Instead, the bullet struck Sarah in her forehead, tore through her sinus with the slug ricocheting downwards before lodging deep in the tissue of her neck. The child, who attends Happy Angel Academy prep-school in Diego Martin, was rushed to the St James Health Facility where she was stabilised and transferred to the EWMSC where she underwent emergency surgery and is now warded in stable condition at the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit.

Headley told Newsday doctors told her it was a miracle her child was alive. Sarah’s stepfather Wilton Julian, a 22-year-old electrician, was at home when he heard the gunshots.

“I was at home awaiting the return of my wife and step-daughter. I decided to cook a little something for them and just so I heard shots and decided to call Alisha. When I called her on the cellular phone, I just heard my wife crying,” Julian said.

He said that although the incident has left the family shaken, the area where the shooting took place is a relatively quiet place. Julian said he and his family of four only moved into that area for a little over a month.

“Sarah is a happy child and she was her normal jovial self before this happened. She was talking and laughing with me in the car. She couldn’t wait to get home. I am scared to come back here. If it wasn’t for the support of my husband I would not come to this area at all,” Headley said.

Both Headley and Julian were at the EWMC for the entire night at Sarah’s side and did not return home until 5 am yesterday. Their other child, who is seven-months-old, stayed with grandmother Arleen Felix, who herself spent a sleepless night worrying about Sarah.

“All we want is for Sarah to pull through. When I heard the shots at home I told Wilton to call them and say don’t come in, but it was too late...they were already in the line of fire. For now we are putting our trust in God,” Felix said.

The grandmother commended the police’s response, saying counsellors from the Police Service’s Victims and Witness Support Unit already visited and spoke to Sarah’s relatives. Up to press time, no arrest had been made while Police Service spokesman Insp Wayne Mystar said investigators are following several positive leads.

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