INDIANAPOLIS — The fourth grader shyly settled down on the other side of a playground table and stared at the huge bandage that wrapped her left hand.
Last Wednesday evening, surgeons at Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital removed a bullet that had wounded the girl the day before as she slept with her two younger sisters inside a second-floor bedroom of a townhome in the Aspen Chase development on the city’s northwest side.
“It was just bad and it was just gushing out blood,” she said. “I told my mom that I got shot in my hand and she told me to go into the hallway and I did and she put a blanket on it to put pressure on me.”
The girl said she remembered that just moments before, in the pre-dawn darkness of her room, as her dog slept next to her in bed, she had just moved the pup from her left hand to her right hand. The bullet missed the pet by inches.
“I thought I forgot to move my dog and my dog was dead,” she said.
The girl’s mother said the incident shows that gun violence has gone too far.
“Kids can’t even sleep in their own beds. That’s supposed to be a safe place for them,” said the girl’s mother, who asked for anonymity in fear of retaliation for sharing her story. “It’s so hard not to think about it when I’m sleeping and all I hear in my dreams is my kids screaming. It’s just terrifying to know I could have lost all three of my children all in one night. For any mother that’s the most worst thing that could happen.”
The mother said she has heard from a neighbor who hinted that perhaps the shooter was looking for her son but shot up the wrong address.
“There’s nothing tough about shooting up somebody’s house especially when you don’t know who’s inside of the home,” said the woman who has since moved her daughters out of their bullet-riddled former home. “Everyone wants to play this tough role. It makes me more upset that no one wants to talk, no one wants to speak up because of retaliation, it’s just an ongoing back-and-forth thing. Unfortunately, young children are in the midst of it.”
Across town, and about six hours earlier in a totally unrelated Tuesday morning event, Erica Thompson was also awakened to the sound of gunfire outside her home.
“I heard two loud pops,” she said. “The next evening I noticed the bullet holes so I figured the noise that I had heard was actually gunshots.”
There are two holes in Erica’s walls where the bullets entered and two holes in the ceiling where they stopped.
“It could’ve traveled and gone into my bedroom wall where I was sleeping. Could’ve traveled anywhere. Bullets don’t got eyes,” said Erica, holding her two-year-old son to her shoulder. “I don’t have no problems with nobody that I know of. This is a shocker.”
Halfway through last week, 65 juveniles in Indianapolis had survived their gunshot wounds in 2022. Last year, for all of 2021, 79 juveniles suffered non-fatal gunshot wounds.
At this pace, Indianapolis will pass last year’s total by Halloween.
The little girl formerly from Aspen Chase said she was mad about being shot while she was asleep before school last week.
“Why does it make you mad?” I asked.
“Because I didn’t deserve this,” she said. “Because I didn’t do nothing to nobody or my mother.”
Back across town, the single mother with the toddler in her arms was not happy her house was in the firing line either.
“Whoever it is, I wish they would stop or find something else to do,” said Erica. “Understand that there’s innocent kids out here who deserve to come home and be safe and sleep in their beds at night without having to worry about bullets flying through their house at night.”