3rd child hit by stray bullet shootings in 2 weeks

Police believe 8-year-old hit New Year's Eve by celebratory gunfire

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - In the last two weeks, three innocent Jacksonville children have been struck by stray bullets.

The latest incident happened 10 minutes before midnight New Year's Eve as an 8-year-old boy was waiting on the Southbank Riverwalk to watch Jacksonville's fireworks display.

The boy was with his father on the east side of the Main Street Bridge when he was hit in the foot by what police believe was a shot fired in celebratory gunfire. The boy told his dad something hit his foot and police say a bullet was found in the child's shoe.

The man carried his son to a police officer working in the area. Rescue was called and the boy was taken to Shands Jacksonville Medical Center to be checked out.

"Why would somebody be down on Riverplace Boulevard at the fireworks firing a firearm anyway"" asked MAD DADS president Donald Foy. "That's not the place to do it at. Why would you even have it there?"


Foy's group, Men Against Destruction Defending Against Drugs and Social Disorder, dedicates most of its time trying to convince people to report information about unsolved crimes to police.

In the last couple of weeks, three of those crimes have involved children hit by stray bullets, and no one has been charged in any of them.

On December 17th, 5-year-old Joshua Griffin was grazed in his head by a shotgun pellet that came flying through the window of his aunt's Northwest Jacksonville home.

"Joshua's doing OK," his aunt, Cordelia Washington said on New Year's Day. "He keeps waking up and telling me, 'Auntie, you know they shot me.'"

Last Friday night, a 3-year-old girl was hit in her foot by one of 11 bullets that riddled her Lakewood home in what neighbors described as a drive-by shooting.

"For a little girl to get shot -- and luckily she's OK -- it's just terrible," said Zac Holzapfel, a neighbor.

After Monday night's shooting of a child, Foy says this is a trend that only the community can help stop.

"We know that these children are going to be traumatized for the rest of their lives with what has happened, and it's up to us adults to make it safer for the children by removing these individuals from our community," Foy said.

Anyone with information about any of these shootings is asked to call the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office at 904-655-0500 or Crime Stoppers at 866-845-TIPS.

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