A 2-year-old girl is fighting for her life after she was struck by a stranger’s stray bullet while playing in her own backyard. It’s unknown where the bullet came from, and police have not identified the shooter.
On Friday, Ariel Salaices was on her swingset with her older brother when a gunshot wound to the head caused her to suddenly fall off the slide. She then walked to her porch, where she collapsed in front of her dad, according to WJHL.
Her mother, Christina Salaices, recalled the dreadful phone call that she received on the day of the incident. She said:
“911 called me to tell me that I needed to call home, so I did and they told me they were flying her out to Johnson City… at that time I didn’t know what was going on. All I know is she fell, what I got out of all of it and I thought maybe she was just going for stiches.”
Salaices was later told that a bullet severed an artery and caused Ariel to have a stroke, reports WCYB.
Ariel is in stable condition as she continues to be treated at a hospital in Knoxville while her family tries to process the tragedy. Christina told WCYB:
“You go to work, your kids are fine, they’re at home playing outside in your own yard. We moved away from the city to get away from something like this…we lived in a rural area and this happened. So it can happen to anyone, anywhere, to anybody.”
The incident is under investigation. Neighbors have told police that it’s not uncommon for the Tennessee residents to hear gunshots.
Ariel’s grandfather, Michael Sawyer, told Fox 17 that the family’s emotions are running high after the incident.
“The person who did this couldn’t have lived that far. Whether they know they did it or not. I think with all this information out there, I think they know who they are.”
Edward Tester with the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office encouraged the members of the community to practice firearm safety:
“If you’re using a firearm and doing target practice or hunting, make sure you’re looking beyond where you’re shooting. Because that bullet may not stop where you want it to.”
A GoFundMe has been set up to help Ariel’s parents cover expenses from the accident.