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Neighbor says six year-old girl and her parents were shot and wounded over stray ball

Gaston County Police Chief Stephen Zill declined to say what led to the shooting, citing the ongoing investigation. But he says a broad search is underway for the perpetrator

Kinsley White, 6, shows reporters a wound left on her face, Thursday, April 20, 2023 in Gastonia, N.C.
Kinsley White, 6, shows reporters a wound left on her face, Thursday, April 20, 2023 in Gastonia, N.C.Kara Fohner (AP)

A North Carolina man shot and wounded a 6-year-old girl and her parents after children went to retrieve a basketball that had rolled into his yard, according to neighbors and the girl’s family — another in a string of recent shootings sparked by seemingly trivial circumstances.

Gaston County Police Chief Stephen Zill said at a news conference Wednesday that his department and the U.S. Marshals Service’s Regional Fugitive Task Force were conducting a broad search for 24-year-old Robert Louis Singletary, who fled after the Tuesday night shootings near Gastonia, a city of roughly 80,000 people west of Charlotte.

Singletary, who has been out on bond in a December attack in which authorities say he assaulted a woman with a hammer, is wanted in Tuesday’s shootings on four counts of attempted first-degree murder, two counts of assault with a deadly weapon with the intent to kill inflicting serious injury, and one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm. Singletary remained at large Thursday, county spokesman Adam Gaub said in an email.

Zill declined to say what sparked the attack, explaining that the investigation was ongoing.

However, neighbor Jonathan Robertson said the attack happened after some neighborhood children went to retrieve a basketball that had rolled into Singletary’s yard. He said Singletary, who had yelled at the children on several occasions since moving to the neighborhood, went inside his home, came back out with a gun and began shooting as parents frantically tried to get their kids to safety.

“As soon as I saw him coming out shooting, I was hollering at everybody to get down and get inside,” Robertson said.

A 6-year-old girl, Kinsley White, was grazed by a bullet in the left cheek and was treated at a hospital and released, she and her family said. Her father, Jamie White, who had run to her aid, was shot in the back. He remained hospitalized Wednesday with serious wounds, including liver damage, according to Kinsley’s grandfather and neighbor, Carl Hilderbrand. The girl’s mother, Ashley Hilderbrand, was grazed in the elbow. Authorities say Singletary also shot at another man but missed.

“It was very scary,” Ashley Hilderbrand said Wednesday. “My daughter actually got to come home last night. She just had a bullet fragment in her cheek.”

It is the latest in a string of recent U.S. shootings that occurred for apparently trivial reasons, including the wounding of a Black teenage honors student in Missouri who went to the wrong address to pick up his younger brothers, the killing of a woman who was in a car that pulled into the wrong upstate New York driveway, and the wounding of two Texas cheerleaders after one apparently mistakenly got into a car that she thought was her own.

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