Carnell Williams-Thomas was riding a scooter through the courtyard of his family’s Miami-Dade County apartment complex on Friday night when his life was cut short. The 2-year-old boy was struck by a stray bullet and died.
“All I could picture was the mind of that child,” Miami-Dade Police Director Juan Perez said at a news conference the following day. “The hope he had for the future. What was going through his mind as he took his last breath? That’s all I kept thinking about.”
At least 19 American children are shot every day, according to a study earlier this year by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Three die, on average. A review of news reports show that Carnell was one of at least five children under 18 fatally shot across the United States from Friday through Sunday — and that he wasn’t the only 2-year-old. The tally, which only includes incidents that made it into the news, is likely an undercount.
- On Friday afternoon, 2-year-old Hudson Pettibone was fatally shot in a home in Buckeye, Arizona, a suburb of Phoenix. His mother, who was charged with his murder, was found with self-inflicted stab wounds nearby.
- Friday evening, 17-year-old Claudel Pinder was gunned down in a trailer park in the northwest Miami-Dade County. The gunman jumped out of a vehicle and opened fire before fleeing the scene.
- Early Sunday, 15-year-old Brian Jasso was killed while delivering newspapers with his stepfather on the Southwest Side of Chicago. A gunman opened fired on their car shortly before 7 a.m. His stepfather was not wounded. Police said the shooting might be a case of mistaken identity in an ongoing gang war. Brian’s mother said he took the job to have enough money to buy his sister a birthday gift.
- And on Sunday night, a 14-year-old girl was killed after being unintentionally shot inside a home in Deer Park, Texas. Police have not revealed the circumstances of the shooting.
The fatal shooting of Carnell Williams-Thomas has enraged a community that has seen several kids felled by stray bullets. Last year, 6-year-old King Carter and 8-year-old Jada Page were killed in northwest Miami-Dade within six months of each other. In 2015, 10-year-old Marlon Eason was killed in a gunfight among teenagers in the Overtown neighborhood of Miami.
“I’m so tired of going to funerals and helping families bury children in our community,” said J.L. Demps Jr., the president of a social club for children in Goulds, the neighborhood where Carnell was killed.
Police are offering $25,000 for information leading to the arrest of the gunman.