An Atlanta mother said she didn’t know if her 13-month-old was dead or alive after a sideswiping accident erupted in gunfire last week.
The woman, who asked to be identified as Natika for her safety, turned to check on her daughter in the backseat and saw the baby covered in blood. She didn’t make a sound.
“My baby's full of blood, so I don't know if she's hit in the chest, but she's still not crying, so I didn't know if she was alive,” the mother told Channel 2 Action News in an exclusive interview detailing the Oct. 6 incident.
Baby Raylah was shot in the hand. Her mother, a passenger in the vehicle, and a friend tried to rush the child the three miles from the intersection of Ira and Fletcher streets in southwest Atlanta to Grady Memorial Hospital. They were only about a block from the hospital when their car broke down.
"She feels the tires going out, because at this point the tires are shot out," Natika recalled. "It took us right off Fulton Street and it completely stopped as we were getting out. It actually caught fire."
Natika flagged down a Georgia State University police officer just before 5:30 p.m. and told him her child was shot. The baby was alert and appeared to be stable when officers escorted the pair to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite Hospital, according to Atlanta police.
Initially, police said the mother reported the shooting was the result of an exchange of gunfire between two men. Natika told Channel 2 it all started when her friend sideswiped a parked SUV and took off a mirror. She said an armed man rushed out of a nearby house and demanded money for repairs.
He asked for $300, but Natika’s friend didn’t have it, she said. She asked if they could exchange insurance information, but she said the man became infuriated.
“He was getting irate,” the mother said. “I asked him before everything was over, I was like, 'Don't shoot,' because I saw him clutching for his gun in his satchel. I said, 'Don't shoot, my baby's in the car.’"
The man allegedly started shooting, and Natika said the bullets were everywhere.
A spokesman for Atlanta police said Monday that investigators are still working to determine the circumstances surrounding the incident.
Raylah, her left hand and much of her arm now wrapped in a pink cast, is expected to make a full recovery.
The shooting was the third to involve a stray bullet and a child over a span of five days. A 4-year-old girl was hit in the foot when bullets sprayed her DeKalb County apartment Oct. 3. Another stray bullet took the life of 18-year-old Jessica Daniels, who was asleep in her bed when someone started shooting outside her southwest Atlanta home.
Natika is now joining the families seeking answers. She told Channel 2 she wants her baby’s shooter to be held accountable.
"I hope and pray he can at least turn himself in, or the police can do their job, stay on top of it and find him, because he clearly is a ticking time bomb," she said.
Anyone with information about the shooting is asked to call Atlanta police at 404-291-6163. Tipsters can remain anonymous, and be eligible for rewards of up to $10,000, by contacting Crime Stoppers Atlanta at 404-577-8477, texting information to 274637 or visiting the Crime Stoppers website.
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