A routine trip to the grocery store turned ugly in Niagara Falls on Tuesday afternoon, when a 2-year-old girl sitting in the front seat of a car with her father was struck by gunfire.
The girl – rushed to Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center by her parents with what a family friend said was a gunshot wound to the face – was transferred to Women & Children’s Hospital, where she was in stable condition late Tuesday.
It remained unclear who the intended victim was in the shooting, and city police had no comment. But Leo Smith, a family friend, told The Buffalo News that the shooter must have targeted someone else.
“No one [intentionally] shoots a baby in the face,” he said.
The shooting occurred at about 1:30 p.m. in the parking lot of the Hometown Grocery, at 17th Street and Pierce Avenue. The girl’s mother, who friends identified as Sharonda Platt, had just gone into the store. The 2-year-old was in the front seat of the family vehicle with her father. Their names were unavailable.
“[Platt] had just come in when she heard several shots,” Hometown Grocery store manager Abdo Salleh told The News. “She ran out the door and was screaming, ‘My baby. My baby was shot.’ ”
Platt is a regular customer, Salleh said. He also said he turned security camera footage, which captured images of part of the shooting, over to city police.
City officers, along with several other police agencies and U.S. Border Patrol agents, were searching for a vehicle believed to have been involved in the shooting. It was described as a four-door silver Pontiac or Taurus, with tinted windows and a spoiler.
When Platt’s friend Aljandrina Cummings heard about the shooting, she went to Falls Memorial to be with Platt.
“This was really sad, just so sad,” she said. “... She said she’d seen her daughter shot, in the face – it was in the cheek.”
Cummings said she sat with her friend at Falls Memorial while the medical staff stabilized the little girl for transfer to the Buffalo hospital. She said Platt was devastated by the shooting of her 2-year-old, the youngest of three siblings.
“She’s scared, and she was just so out of it,” Cummings said. “I just told her the only thing that could help her though this was to pray. I stayed with her and prayed.”
Shaken neighborhood residents who gathered at the Hometown Grocery after the shooting were angered by escalating gun violence in the city.
“It’s getting worse,” said Maria Shaver, whose son, Gerald Cannon, 17, was shot and killed in the Falls seven years ago. Shaver said no one was charged in her son’s slaying.
“The people who already have gun charges are the ones doing this,” she said. “They are already back on the street. It is sad. I can just feel [what this little girl’s mother] is going through.”
Anyone with information is asked to call city police at 286-4547.