A man in North Carolina shot and wounded a six-year-old girl and her parents after children went to retrieve a basketball that had rolled into his garden, according to neighbours and the girl’s family.
It is the latest in a string of recent shootings in the US sparked by seemingly trivial circumstances.
Gaston County police chief Stephen Zill said at a news conference that his department and the US Marshals Service’s Regional Fugitive Task Force were conducting a broad search for 24-year-old Robert Louis Singletary, who fled after the Tuesday night shootings near Gastonia, a city of roughly 80,000 people west of Charlotte.
Singletary, who has been out on bail over a December attack in which authorities allege he assaulted a woman with a hammer, is wanted over Tuesday’s shootings on four counts of attempted first-degree murder, two counts of assault with a deadly weapon with the intent to kill inflicting serious injury, and one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Mr Zill declined to say what sparked the attack, explaining that the investigation was ongoing.
However, neighbour Jonathan Robertson said the attack happened after some neighbourhood children went to retrieve a basketball that had rolled into Singletary’s garden.
He said Singletary, who had shouted at the children on several occasions since moving to the neighbourhood, went inside his home, came back out with a gun and began shooting as parents frantically tried to get their children to safety.
“As soon as I saw him coming out shooting, I was hollering at everybody to get down and get inside,” Mr Robertson said.
A six-year-old girl, Kinsley White, was grazed by a bullet in the left cheek and was treated in hospital and released, she and her family said.
Her father, Jamie White, who had run to her aid, was shot in the back.
He remained in hospital on Wednesday with serious wounds, including liver damage, according to Kinsley’s grandfather and neighbour, Carl Hilderbrand.
Authorities say Singletary also shot at another man but missed.
“It was very scary,” Ashley Hilderbrand said on Wednesday.
“My daughter actually got to come home last night. She just had a bullet fragment in her cheek.”
It is the latest in a string of recent US shootings that occurred for apparently trivial reasons, including the wounding of a black teenage honours student in Missouri who went to the wrong address to pick up his younger brothers, the killing of a woman who was in a car that pulled into the wrong upstate New York driveway, and the wounding of two Texas cheerleaders after one apparently mistakenly got into a car that she thought was her own.