Child narrowly survives bullet to the eye

A 9-year-old boy was shot in the eye while watching television in his living room. He narrowly survived, but he lost his sight in that eye.
A 9-year-old boy was shot in the eye while watching television in his living room. He narrowly survived, but he lost his sight in that eye.

The boy was shot in the face two days after his ninth birthday.

He was sitting in the living room of his Gastonia home around 11:30 p.m. Friday watching television when the bullet punched through a wall. It entered one of his eyes but for some reason stopped before going further. The child survived, barely.

"Mentally, he's scarred. He didn't know if he was going to live or die. And that was the very first thing he asked: 'Am I gonna die?'" The boy's mother said Wednesday. "How do you explain to your 9 year old, and you're looking at them with blood running down their face, and a bullet has gone through their eye, and you're trying to tell them confidently that they're not going to die?"

The Gazette is not identifying the woman or her son because the Gastonia Police Department has not found the person who shot him Aug. 19, and the mother fears for her family's safety.

In her first media interview since the shooting, the woman said that while her son was released from the hospital Monday, he is now adjusting to a new way of living.

While the doctors were able to repair the physical structure of the eye, the child can no longer see out of it. He can still see out of one eye, but is having to re-learn simple things, like how to walk across the room without tripping.

"He will trip over things that he wouldn't normally trip over because he's looking at it," the woman said. "But now he has to make sure that and I have to keep reminding him, 'son, you have to turn your whole head.'"

The boy had just started fourth grade, and his very first football game was supposed to be on Saturday, Aug. 20. He didn't get to play. Instead, he spent that day in the hospital.

"And I don't know when he'll get to play," the woman said.

Gastonia Police say that they have no information about who might have shot the child.

The woman said the shooting might have stemmed from a fight at a Hunter Huss High School football game, and Gastonia Police said that they are investigating that possibility.

"I'm disgusted. I don't understand the world that we live in now, to where punks feel like the only answer is a gun," the woman said. "I don't understand how you go from one simple argument to you shooting up someone's house that you know have children."

She is hoping someone will speak up and turn the person who is responsible in to the police.

"He is not out of the woods. He is by the grace of God still breathing. So I'm not understanding why no one wants to help him," she said. "I would give my last for someone to say, 'hey, I don't know if this will help, but this is what I know.'"

She said that one of her other children has received threats that "someone is going to do to him like they did his brother," and she fears for his life as well.

She also wants to correct the record. She said that there have been media reports that other incidents of crime had happened at her house. She said that someone shot into her house two years ago in an unrelated incident, but the police handled it.

"There are other news articles out that my house is a violent house, a house of crime," she said. "And it's not. I'm a single mother of four who works to take care of her children just like the next person, who has kids that sometimes are rebellious, and that is what this is."

Regardless, she is grateful that her 9-year-old son is still breathing. She said that doctors have no explanation for why the bullet stopped behind his eye instead of proceeding into her son's brain.

"It went into his eye, came out of the back, and just stopped," she said. "When you move this over to the spiritual realm I understand exactly why. There's not a doubt in my mind that this isn't over. God is not done showing his hand."

Reporter Kara Fohner can be reached at 704-869-1850 or at kfohner@gannett.com. Support local journalism by subscribing here.

This article originally appeared on The Gaston Gazette: Gastonia boy narrowly survives shooting