Police search for gunman in girl's shooting

March 18, 2010 5:28:50 PM PDT
Chicago police were back in a South Side neighborhood Thursday searching for a gunman who shot a 7-year-old girl.

Desaree Sanders, 7, was riding her scooter on the sidewalk near the southeast corner of the intersection of 80th and Manistee Wednesday when she was shot.

The girl remains in critical condition at University of Chicago Comer Children's Hospital. She has been heavily sedated and properly will remain so, her family says, for another three days.

Mildred Sanders, Desaree's grandmother, and other family members are maintaining a vigil at her bedside, saying that based on what doctors have told them, Desaree will live and make a recovery but they won't know about damage done until the swelling has gone down.

"They say it looks good. The swelling was going down and she's still stable. And that's about all they can tell right now," said Sanders. "She might lose her eye...her right eye.

Meanwhile, police handed out leaflets and asked residents to contact police if they saw or know anything.

"I believe someone will be apprehended. And I believe that today will not pass before someone will gain courage and say, 'I know who did it. I know the car,'" said Pastor Donald Smith, Pastors United for Change.

Police passed out fliers in the south Chicago neighborhood where 7-year-old Desaree Sanders was shot in the head as she rode her scooter in Wednesday afternoon's bright sunshine. The fliers urge people to come forward, anonymously, if necessary, with information, because the presumption of police and long-time residents of the neighborhood is that there are people who know who the shooter is.

"Someone in this neighborhood knows what happened to the child. They know who did it. And it could happen to you the next time," said Eddie Thomas, neighborhood resident.

Desaree was hit by a single bullet above her right eye as she unknowingly found herself in a spray of gunfire as a presumed gang member was firing at someone else 50 yards away. Police questioned two young men Wednesday night but later released them.

A police surveillance camera was operational at 81st and Mnistee, but that's a block from the shooting scene and it's questionable whether the camera will reveal any images significant to the investigation.

Along with police, local ministers came to the neighborhood to support the family and send a message.

"We are not really looking for the mayor or the governor, but for people who live in these individual households to take back their house, number one, and control of their children," said Rev. Larry Roberts, Pastors United for Change.

Police have questioned a number of additional people Thursday, but no charges have been filed, although police are optimistic that charges will come sooner or later.

According to her family, Desaree was shot above the right eye, but they have been told that the bullet traveled down her neck and is lodged there. While the family has spoken to ABC7, they have not officially authorized Comer Children's Hospital to release any of that information.

While police pursue the shooter, the family maintains hope.

"We know the Lord got it in his hands. We know that everything is OK. We're expecting a full recovery," said Sanders.