OXFORD, N.C. (WNCN) — Six people were shot in an Oxford neighborhood on Saturday night, including two children.
Police told CBS 17 that someone fired their gun into a crowd of more than 100 people on Piedmont Avenue around 9:30 p.m. The group had gathered after a memorial service, mourning the loss of a family member and friend.
Victims were transported to a local hospital, where four of them were airlifted to another hospital for treatment.
On Monday afternoon, Oxford Police Chief Patricia Ford told CBS 17 that an 18-month-old girl is among the victims. She is still in the ICU, with six gunshot wounds to her lower body.
A 10-year-old was also injured. Ford said she was released from the hospital, with a bullet still in her thigh. She will need to see a specialist to get it removed.
Ford said she’s never heard of anything like this happening in her community.
“I have a caller from Piedmont Avenue. Advise shots fired, people running behind her house,” a dispatcher said on police radio traffic obtained by CBS17.
A time of reflection and mourning quickly turned into chaos and fear.
“Shootings happen every day and, in every community,” said Ford. “But when children are involved, we tend to look at things a little differently.”
Investigators said the crowd had gathered in a green space in the neighborhood to remember the life of Curtis White.
“[White] was killed in an automobile accident. They were there as a family mourning and celebrating the life and loss of their loved one,” explained Ford. “It just took a negative turn very quickly.”
Pastor Ronnie Morton, of the Greater Joy Baptist Church, was at the service for White earlier in the afternoon. He told CBS17 he had concerns.
“I told my wife on the way home that something was going to happen. I just felt like that in my bones,” he said. “There was a lot of drinking and marijuana smoking.”
Oxford Police could not confirm there was drug use at the event but did confirm there was alcohol involved.
Morton, and people living nearby, never expected the extent of the violence that ensued later in the night.
One woman told CBS 17 that she grabbed her niece and nephew and ran as fast as she could, ducking behind a neighbor’s home.
“A child could lose their life over something that’s pointless, meaningless,” another neighbor said. “I don’t want to lose one of my children to something like that.”
Police do not have a suspect in mind, nor have they pinpointed a motive.
They said they believe someone in the crowd was targeted, but that most of the people in the gathering were innocent.
“The mindset of someone who would go into a large crowd and just randomly fire… I consider that person dangerous,” added Ford.
Many people in the area are concerned about the growing level of gun violence.
“We need to stop doubting our police officers. We need to work with our police officers,” said Morton. “How do you work with police officers? It’s not their responsibility to change the community. It’s ours.”
The investigation will be difficult for officers, given the size of the crowd, officials told CBS 17.
They will be interviewing each and every person there in an effort to find the person or people responsible.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Sgt. Det. Kevin Dickerson at the Oxford Police Department at 919-693-3161 or Crime Stoppers at 919-693-3100.