Family: Graham girl shot by stray bullet; sheriff’s office says lawnmower accident possible

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GRAHAM, N.C. -- A peaceful day of playing in a backyard on a swing set was ruined Saturday when something, out of nowhere, hit 7-year-old Crystal Bowman on both legs. Crystal, who was playing with another small boy and being pushed on the swings by her aunt, was the only one injured.

“She said ‘It's burning, it's stinging, it's hurting, mama. Do something,’” said Toni Bowman, the child’s grandmother.

When Toni checked her granddaughters legs they were both bleeding. Crystal also had two small cuts through the calf area of her pants.

Crystal was rushed to the hospital in Burlington. Doctors examined the puncture wound on her left leg and scrapes on both legs and determined she had been shot and grazed by a bullet. They called the sheriff’s office.

The Bowman family believed the doctor given that the home on Red Head Trail where the incident occurred is in the woods. The family also regularly hears gunshots coming from the woods east of Highway 87 near Gina Lane.

“Even when the detectives were out searching there were four or five gunshots that went off in the distance,” said Amber Bowman, Crystal’s mother. “We don't know if people are just hunting or shooting.”

Investigators initially handled the incident as a shooting but were never able to find the bullet. That has some detectives wondering if the wounds were a result of a rock or shrapnel passing through a nearby lawnmower. Both scenarios are listed in the initial report on the incident.

The Bowman’s don’t believe the lawnmower theory and are still hoping to find the bullet on their property because it could help track the gun and the owner.

The family isn’t interested in pressing charges but feel like Crystal deserves an apology.

“She's scared to go outside in the backyard and every time there's a gunshot in the distance you're kind of just standing there waiting to see if the bullet is going to hit you,” said Amber Bowman.

Crystal is out of the hospital and able to walk but still shaken by what happened. Her family said the girl who is always out back playing with her cousin on the swing set barely steps outside if she doesn’t have to.

The family hopes bringing this story to light will help alert hunters and gun owners to the dangers of using the wooded area off Gina Lane to track animals and shoot recreationally.

“There are families here in the woods- you don't know where those stray bullets are going,” said Amber Bowman. “I'm just grateful it just grazed her legs. If she had been in the wrong position it could easily have killed her.”