HAMILTON—A neighbour who came to the aid of a seven-year-old child, shot Thursday night inside his east end home, says the frightened boy looked him in the eye and asked: “Am I going to die?”
The neighbour, Dan, who did not want his name used for fear of retaliation, said it was so painful to hear that at first he had to look away from the young child.
The boy is in stable condition in hospital after the shooting which happened just before 8 p.m. on Gordon Street, north of Barton Street near Gage Avenue. He was shot inside his own home, “a result of multiple gunshots into the house,” police said Friday morning.
Police said the shots were fired into the home from the backyard.
“After discharging the firearm, the suspect fled from the rear yard into a vehicle waiting on Gordon Street and sped east,” police said in a release.
They describe the vehicle as a light-coloured four-door sedan.
Police said the home was targeted, and the child was the unintended victim.
After hearing gunshots Thursday night, Dan ran into the home and worked to stop the bleeding while they waited for paramedics.
He says he heard two gunshots and then a commotion down the street. At first he thought the shots were in an apartment across the road, but then he heard screaming from inside the home. He opened the door and down the hall he saw the boy lying there bleeding from wounds to his abdomen and left hand.
Dan said he applied pressure with a sweater.
“He asked me if he was going to die,” Dan said. At first he had to look away, but when the boy asked again he turned back.
“I told him: no, it’s just a little hole,” he said.
Dan said he tried to feel the boy’s back for an exit wound but didn’t find one. The boy sat up and said it was easier to breathe that way.
Within two minutes police were on scene.
In the chaos Dan said he was just focused on the boy, whose family he said were quiet and have lived on the street a couple years.
After he said he looked around on the ground for shell casings, but didn’t see any and doesn’t know what happened.
There were other adults in the home when he went inside. Dan said he called out to ask if anyone else was hurt, but was told no.
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At the scene a number of evidence marker tags mark the snow-covered path along the side of the house toward the back of the home.
It appears police took casings of shoe prints left in the snow.
Neighbours gathered Friday morning expressed sadness and anger about violence impacting children.
It’s not the first time a child has been hurt or killed here. Jesse Clark, 14, was fatally stabbed more than five years ago in the neighbourhood.
Dan said he was there then too, and held Clarke as he was dying. He and his family have suffered a lot of loss and as he ran in to help the boy Thursday night he said he was thinking: “not again.”
Last night at the scene, Deputy police Chief Frank Bergen expressed his outrage over the shooting.
“This is unacceptable,” Bergen said. “Guns do not belong on our streets.
“This is when our community has to stop and understand what’s happening with the proliferation of guns on the street,” Bergen added.
Dan described the boy as a good kid.
“He comes outside and plays with my dogs.”
Bergen noted that this was the third shooting of the year, but the first with a victim. Last year there were 47 shooting incidents in Hamilton.
“This is when the public needs to come together, if you see something, say something,” Bergen said.
The shooting is being investigated by the major crime unit, which handles the most serious of criminal cases in Hamilton, including homicides and attempted murders.
Police are on the scene looking for evidence and reviewing video surveillance and speaking to witnesses. Police are asking any residents or businesses with video cameras, or other information, to come forward.
People with information can call Det. Daryl Reid at 905-546-3825 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.