NIAGARA FALLS – Police have issued an arrest warrant for a convicted drug dealer in the shooting two weeks ago of a 2-year-old girl in front of Hometown Grocery.
Willie R. Scott Jr., 32, of LaSalle Avenue, also known “Boo” and “Tony,” is considered armed and dangerous, city police said. He is 5 feet, 9 inches tall and weighs 265 pounds, according to detectives.
Investigators believe Scott meant to shoot a man sitting in the car with the little girl but instead struck the child.
They ask anyone with information to call 911, the Criminal Investigation Bureau at 286-4553 or the main police desk at 286-4711.
Police responded to a call of shots fired Nov. 27 and found J’raeona Moore had been shot in the face in front of the market on Pierce Avenue. J’raeona was lucky to be alive, according to doctors at Women & Children’s Hospital who removed a bullet from the right side of her face.
The bullet lodged near the little girl’s right cheek, and a bullet fragment was found on the left side of her face, according to police.
“Luckily, it was a few inches away from her brain,” said her mother, Sha’Ronda Platt, as her daughter recovered shortly after the shooting. “She has no damage to her brain, and I am thankful for that.”
The girl continues to recover in the hospital. A fund has been set up to cover her medical costs; more information can be found at www.gofundme.com/ helpthebaby.
City Police Capt. William M. Thomson, chief of detectives, said the girl was seated in the back seat of the parked car when she was shot. He said an unknown suspect or suspects drove by the Hometown Market and fired several shots at the car, one of which went through the door of the car, while J’raeona was in the back seat.
Platt said she had just gone inside the store to pick up a few things, leaving her daughter in the car with a male friend, who police believe was the intended target.
Police have not named the male friend.
Scott is known to police and has served time in prison for drug sales and possession.
In 2008, he was called a second-level supplier to former city cocaine kingpin David A. Phelps and pleaded guilty to third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance in Niagara County Court. He was sent to state prison and released on parole in August 2010, according to state corrections records.
Police reported another drive-by shooting related to the case last week in which an unknown person shot at a house on LaSalle Avenue.
They have not said how that case might be related, but they said none of the toddler’s family or friends were targeted.
Two bullets were found lodged in the house after the shooting, one of them in an inside wall. No injures were reported.