Girl, 2, dies from injuries after Hammond shooting, police say

Mother, daughter caught in crossfire in apartment complex parking lot: Hammond police
HAMMOND, Ind. (WLS) -- The 2-year-old girl who was critically wounded after she was shot Wednesday night in Hammond, Indiana died late Friday morning, police said.

Police identified the toddler as "Jo Jo" in a statement Friday.

"Our hearts are heavy with this news, and now more than ever, we ask the public for help," police said. "This little girl's life was stripped from her in an act of senseless violence that will forever impact those who knew her."

According to Hammond police, around 9:30 p.m. Wednesday officers responded to shots fired in the 3300-block of Craig Drive and found a mother in a vehicle with her 2-year-old daughter who had been struck by a bullet.

Hammond police said the mother was not injured and did not know the shooters.

"Well it's definitely devastating; my heart goes out to her mother and her family," neighbor Ariel McBounds said. "I can only imagine what she's going through and how she's feeling."

The mother and child were caught between two people shooting at each other in the parking lot of the Kennedy Crossing Apartment Complex, police said.

The silver Cadillac in which they had been sitting appeared to have its rear driver's-side window shot out.
"For fear of myself and my children in my home, I didn't look out the window," said a neighbor, who did not wish to be identified.

Other neighbors said they heard several shots about 9:30 p.m.

"I heard like three gunshots yesterday, last night, and I was pulling in and I actually heard it when I was pulling in," said Kenan Jones, another neighbor.

Police marked at least 10 shell casings on the scene.

Jennifer McPherson found another one this morning in her apartment. She discovered a bullet hole in her living room from where one of the shots apparently entered from the shooting outside.

"I just heard a lot of shots and so I stayed down there a little bit," she said.

When the shooting started, McPherson said she and her two kids hid under a bed.

Kayla Johnson said she was walking through the parking lot on her way to the store when the gunshots rang out.

"We started hearing shots, and my momma ran behind a dumpster. Then we heard this lady start screaming for help for her baby," Johnson said.

Johnson said it appeared the shots were coming from two different directions, and one of the gunmen was in a car that sped away. She focused on trying to help the mother and little girl who was shot.

"I'm pretty shaken up," she said. "I just hope the baby is OK, and the mother gets justice for her baby."

A helicopter searched for the suspect Wednesday night, who police believe may have run into a wooded area. Police dogs also scoured the area as the FBI was on scene assisting Hammond police.

Cameras on the property might have caught the shooting on video, but police are not releasing many details. Law enforcement officials said they are following good leads.
Residents say the apartment complex has been very safe. Jones said he moved his family there to escape the violence in Chicago.

"And then I came here and you know, I mean, can't go too far," he said. "It always follows."

His neighbor agreed.

"I hate that this is not a good morning because it hurts when it hits home, and this is like my home," neighbor Patricia Bennett.

McPherson said she's now thinking of moving out. She's lived in the complex for five years and never had a complaint. But this is different.

"They violated my peace. They entered my living room," McPherson said.
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