VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – The only child shot during last year's sniper spree calmly told a jury his story Wednesday in remarkably succinct fashion: "I put my book bag down and I got shot."
Iran Brown (search), 14, was cut down by a bullet on his way to his middle school in Bowie, Md., last October. He recalled the horror of the shooting during two minutes of testimony at John Allen Muhammad (search)'s murder trial, answering prosecutors' questions in a relaxed, matter-of-fact manner.
"I walked out [of the car] and I put my book bag down and I got shot," the boy told the jury as his mother looked on.
After the shooting, Iran walked back to his aunt's car, who drove him to a nearby urgent care treatment center.
Tanya Brown, the aunt, testified that she was dropping Iran off at school because he had been barred from the school bus for a few days for eating candy.
She said she heard a loud noise, and then heard Iran calling for her.
"He told me, 'I've been shot.' I didn't believe him at first," she said. Then she saw a hole in his shirt and a dark stain, apparently blood.
Brown, a nurse, said she made the decision to drive her nephew to the urgent care center almost instinctively.
She wept on the stand while prosecutors played the 911 tape in which she calmly explained to the dispatcher that she was driving Iran to the clinic, with his cries audible in the background. At one point, she told the boy, "You're not going to die."
"He told me that he loved me," she said.
Martin Eichelberger, the doctor at Children's Hospital in Washington who later operated on the boy, said he removed the spleen and parts of his liver and pancreas. But the bullet that entered Brown's left chest missed the heart and lungs.
"This young boy had the good Lord riding on his shoulder that day," Eichelberger said.
Iran, who was not cross-examined by defense lawyers, testified that the shooting "brought me closer to God."
Eichelberger said Brown had lost a tremendous amount of blood. He said Tanya Brown's decision to transport her nephew herself rather than wait for an ambulance helped save his life.
A police cadet also testified Wednesday that he found a ball-point pen barrel in a field less than 100 yards from the shooting scene. Court records indicate that Muhammad's DNA was on that barrel.
Muhammad and fellow sniper suspect Lee Boyd Malvo (search) have been accused of shooting 19 people, killing 13 and wounding six in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. Malvo goes on trial next month.
Muhammad, a 42-year-old Army veteran, is on trial for the shooting of Dean Harold Meyers outside a Virginia gas station on Oct. 9. But prosecutors must prove multiple murders to obtain a capital murder conviction on one of the two death penalty charges against Muhammad.
In other testimony Wednesday, a Baltimore police officer said he encountered Muhammad on Oct. 8, the day after the Brown shooting. The officer, James Snyder, said Muhammad was sleeping in his Chevrolet Caprice while parked at a service station.
The officer ordered Muhammad out of the car, but let him go after Muhammad produced a Washington state driver's license. Snyder is the third officer to testify that he encountered Muhammad during the sniper spree.
The Brown shooting occurred just a few hours after Montgomery County, Md., police had held a news conference to announce that police officers had been posted at schools for protection.
Montgomery County police Capt. Nancy Demme testified that the officers were placed at schools "not only as a deterrent but also to give the public peace of mind."
The school where Brown was shot is in neighboring Prince George's County, where officers had not been posted to protect children before Iran was shot, said Sgt. Tora Coates, a county police spokeswoman.