JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Two children were injured, one critically, in an exchange of gunfire between two groups Monday afternoon in the Highlands area of the Northside, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.
The grandparents of the victims said the 5-year-old girl, Kearria Attison, and her 4-year-old sister, Paris West, were sitting in a car with their mother outside a convenience store on Monaco Drive at De Paul Drive just after 4 p.m. when the shootout happened.
Assistant Chief Brian Kee, with the Sheriff’s Office, said investigators learned there was an argument that turned into a physical fight between two groups of people and the fight escalated into gunfire.
When the two groups began shooting at each other, according to Kee, the 5-year-old girl, who was in the backseat of the car, was struck by gunfire and the 4-year-old, who was also in the backseat of the car, was injured by some of the debris.
“We don’t know what started the argument, but it, unfortunately, led to led to some gunfire with innocent children in the middle of it,” Kee said. “The children were absolutely innocent. Who they were with were not part of this argument, fight, anything. They were completely innocent and, unfortunately, right in the middle of the gunfire.”
The 5-year-old was hospitalized in critical condition, Kee said. Mayor Lenny Curry said he was told by the Sheriff’s Office that the child was shot in the head.
I’ve been briefed by Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. A child was shot in the head today in what appears to be crossfire related to a dispute. Police are pursuing suspect. The shooter must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.— Lenny Curry (@lennycurry) April 6, 2020
According to family members, the 5-year-old underwent surgery to have a bullet removed from her head and she was in a medically induced coma at last check.
Kee described the injury to the 4-year-old girl as minor. The victims’ grandfather, Andrew West, said she was also grazed by a bullet.
“Two little kids is in the hospital from getting shot from their mistake. They need to cut this mess out," he said.
Also, according to the grandfather, one of the people involved in the shooting ran up to the girls’ mother and said he was sorry.
“He just left. A coward runs instead of staying there and waiting for the police so they can know what’s going on,” West said.
The Sheriff’s Office said those involved in the shooting took off in a vehicle. Officers with rifles and K-9s were at the scene and it appeared a manhunt was underway.
“As more details come forward, we’ll be to release more details about this heinous and senseless crime,” Kee said. “We’re getting a lot of support from neighbors and witnesses, so the community support has been pretty good.”
Anyone with information is asked to call the Sheriff’s Office at 904-630-0500. To remain anonymous, contact Crime Stoppers at 1-866-845-TIPS (8477).
Also on Monday, according to the Sheriff’s Office, a man was wounded in an unrelated shooting about 6:50 p.m. on Ernest Street in Riverside. Police said the incident appeared to be drug-related.