7-year-old struck by stray bullet wishes people would stop shooting each other, her mother says

CHARLOTTE — A 7-year-old girl who was struck by a stray bullet Tuesday night in northwest Charlotte is recovering, her mother said.

Zionna Grace can now stand and sit up as she recovers in a hospital.

The bullet struck Zionna’s lung, liver and ribs.

Zionna’s mom said the girl has been brave through it all and has not shed a tear.

Police said the crime is connected to a separate shooting that injured two teens earlier in the day, but no arrests have been made in that case yet.

“I wish people would stop shooting guns because it really hurts,” the girl said.

Three people have been arrested after the shooting, according to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Johnny Jennings.

Eyewitness News was with police at each scene, the first on Hovis Road in broad daylight, and then the other on Marble Street later that evening -- less than a mile away.

In the earlier shooting, around 3:30 p.m., detectives said someone in a car targeted two teens during a drive-by outside a Hope Mart. The kids ran to a nearby house to get help.

The victims are 14 years old and 15 years old, according to Jennings. The teens were taken to a hospital where they are in stable condition.

A few hours later, investigators said Zionna was playing outside when she was hit by a stray bullet when two groups started shooting at each other on Marble Street.

The police said three people were arrested in connection with the Zionna’s shooting. Two people were charged with the actual shooting of the child while another person was arrested but was not directly associated with the incident, police said.

Alvin Steele, 19, is accused of shooting the girl. He was arrested after a traffic stop and taken to a police station to be interviewed. Steele was charged with assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury and conspiracy to commit assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury.

Shiodon Shipp, 23, was charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

Jarvis Short Jr., 28, was inside the vehicle with Steele at the time of the traffic stop, police said. He was arrested for possession of drug paraphernalia.

“I’m just praying and asking the community to pray with me that this baby survives for this family because this is a tragedy,” said Lucille Puckett.

Police held a news conference Wednesday where they said people using guns to solve disputes has become a problem in the area.

“They don’t think about once this bullet leaves the end of this gun, ‘Who’s on the far end of it? Who’s in the house? Who’s in the house behind? Who’s sitting in the car in the neighbor’s driveway?’” Major Brian Foley said.

Neighbors and detectives said they’re fed up with the violence.

“I’ll be honest with you. If you want to live in your community and you don’t want to be afraid, you shouldn’t be afraid to stand up for what’s right and to tell people who are doing this kind of stuff to stop now,” Foley said.

Cheryl Dover with the Freedom Division Advisory Council told Channel 9 she’s worried that her community is in a violent cycle.

“I don’t know how it’s going to end. I don’t know where it’s going to end, but it has to end,” Dover said.

She said she feels the pain that police expressed at the news conference when they said they need more information from the community, but people are not talking.

“It’s highly disturbing,” she said. “It’s just becoming more and more of a daily occurrence and the victims are getting younger and young.”

Susie Taylor heads the Freedom Division community watch. They set up a Facebook page to allow people to share tips without fear of retaliation.

“Contact us and we can contact CMPD for them,” Taylor said.

She said the organization is also asking the police chief for more officers to patrol the division.

“We’ve got to do better,” she said.

Mark Riley of Mothers of Murdered Offspring said he is here ready to do whatever the chief says he needs to stop the problem.

“If we just save 1 person, 1 person is enough,” he said.

CMPD detectives worked around the clock to track down who fired the shots.

[ALSO READ: 2 juveniles in hospital after drive-by shooting in northwest Charlotte, CMPD says]

“Innocent people are out here living a decent life and I could’ve gotten killed tonight sitting on my porch,” said Vanessa Keith.

CMPD hosts community conversation after 3 kids hurt in separate shootings

Officers are pleading with the community to come forward with information that can help lead to additional arrests. Jennings held a community conversation Wednesday at the Hoskins Avenue Baptist Church in hopes of helping curb the violence plaguing the city.

Channel 9′s Dashawn Brown was at the conversation and said dozens of people showed up to voice their concerns.

“They are right near our church,” resident John Thomas said. “Memorial Baptist Church, at the top of the hill. They had three murders up there last year, so it hasn’t gotten any better.”

Brown said neighbors told police they’re living in fear. They said gunshots have become so frequent that they don’t even bother to call 911.

“Like, some people said we get satisfied and comfortable with gunshots,” Thomas said. “We are never satisfied with gunshots. It has gotten worse in the last six months.”

Tuesday’s shooting where three young people were hurt in a matter of hours was an obvious tipping point.

Police said the point of the meeting was to figure out how officers and the community can partner to make the area a safer place to live.

“We can’t do this by ourselves,” CMPD Chief Johnny Jennings said. “If people are sitting around and waiting on police to solve all the problems, it’s not going to happen.”

One thing we heard from CMPD is that they want to create a better relationship where the community can come forward with what they’re seeing.

One group that was not at the conversation was the young people who live in the neighborhood. Reaching them is going to be a key factor moving forward.

“The younger adults and some of the juveniles that we talk about, that’s where we need the help of the people that we just spoke with,” Jennings said. “The community members. The older community members.”

(WATCH: 2 juveniles in hospital after drive-by shooting in northwest Charlotte, CMPD says)