Atlanta police have identified the 7-year-old girl struck by a stray bullet Monday evening while Christmas shopping with her family in Buckhead.
Kennedy Maxie remained at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite in critical condition Wednesday afternoon, authorities said.
Maxie, who lives in Cobb County and attends Sedalia Park Elementary, was shot in the back of the head while riding with her mother and aunt near Phipps Plaza. Investigators do not believe the family’s Lexus was the intended target of the shooting, which stemmed from an argument between several men in the parking lot of Saks Fifth Avenue, interim police Chief Rodney Bryant said.
The child’s aunt told detectives she heard the gunfire while driving along Peachtree Road near the high-end shopping mall. Moments later, she realized Maxie had been struck and drove straight to the hospital, where the little girl was rushed into surgery.
Police are still examining surveillance footage from the parking lot in an attempt to identify the shooter, but no arrests have been made.
Atlanta attorney Jackie Patterson told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution he contributed $5,000 of his own money Wednesday to increase the reward in the case, bringing the total amount to $15,000.
“I can imagine the pain this family is going through because I have a daughter of my own,” Patterson said. “It’s Christmastime and this is just so tragic. I just want to do what I can to try to bring the shooter to justice.”
A GoFundMe page set up to assist Maxie’s family had raised nearly $21,000 as of Thursday morning.
“After an evening of Christmas shopping near Phipps Plaza, 7-year-old Kennedy Maxie was in the car heading home with her mom and aunt when she was struck in the head by a stray bullet,” the online campaign launched by Kennedy’s godmother reads. “Kennedy is currently fighting for her life at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. Continue to pray for our sweet Kennedy & please consider donating to help support her and her family during this unimaginable time.”
Monday’s incident outside Phipps Plaza follows a spate of shootings in the area as police struggle to stem the spike in violence at the end of a historically deadly year. As of Wednesday, there have been 151 homicides across the city, up from the 99 slayings police investigated in 2019.
“It’s very, very sad,” said Atlanta City Council President Felicia Moore. “It’s just unbelievable the level of gun violence that we’re seeing.”
In a lengthy Facebook post urging anyone with information about Maxie’s case to come forward, Atlanta police said officers are “sickened” each time someone else is injured or killed in a shooting.
“It is especially disturbing when small children are the victims of these acts,” the post read. “Kennedy and her family didn’t deserve to be victims of gun violence. Their family’s day out shopping ended with this little girl shot in the head and her undergoing surgery.”
Atlanta police have increased security measures at nearby Lenox Square in recent weeks following a rise in violence at the mall. There have been at least seven shooting incidents at the popular shopping destination in the past year, one of which was fatal.
“I don’t think anybody, including my constituents, are happy about the increase in violent crime,” said Councilman J.P. Matzigkeit, whose district includes the western half of Buckhead. “Frankly, people are scared. They’re concerned and they’re scared. … Those are places where everybody goes.”
Anyone with information about the case is asked to contact Atlanta police.
Tipsters can also remain anonymous, and be eligible for the cash reward, by contacting Crime Stoppers Atlanta at 404-577-8477, texting information to 274637 or visiting the Crime Stoppers website.