SEATTLE – Seattle police are hunting a driver and passenger who fired shots at a car carrying a 1-year-old, hitting the infant -- who authorities are calling 'Baby Malaja' -- in the face, leaving her clinging to life.
Baby Malaja was struck by one of five bullets fired into her family's car by two people in another vehicle in the Seattle suburb of Kent Thursday evening, Fox 13 reported. The tot, who was strapped in her car seat in the back of her family's silver Chevrolet Impala, was initially reported dead, but officials said late Thursday she was fighting for her life. A family member told reporters that she has been declared brain dead, although that could not be confirmed.
"You ain’t no gangster because you want to carry a gun. That’s stupid. Live for your kids. Be a PTA parent. Do something.”
- Edmond McNeil, uncle of Baby Majala
“We need to stop the Seattle violence,” the little girl's uncle, Edmond "Mackie" McNeil, said in a dramatic plea Thursday night, after taking the microphone from a KIRO reporter during a live broadcast outside Harborview Medical Center. “We’re trying to be living for our kids. Everybody needs to live for your kids, now. It’s over. You ain’t no gangster because you want to carry a gun. That’s stupid. Live for your kids. Be a PTA parent. Do something.”
The incident was initially believed to have a case of road rage, sparked by a dispute with the other car's occupants. But on Friday, Police spokesman Sgt. Jarod Kasner said police no longer think the road rage prompted the shooting.
“Although preliminary information indicated road rage, new information gathered doesn’t show that as the true cause,” he said.
Police said the driver and a passenger in the other car, a black sedan, fired into the car Majala was riding in.
Malaja was rushed to Harborview, where spokeswoman Susan Gregg said the baby girl was in "very critical condition."
Kent Police Department spokeswoman Melanie Robinson said Majala's parents were in the front seat when a black car pulled alongside near an apartment complex at about 4:30 p.m. Robinson says both the driver and passenger in the black car fired at the silver car, then drove off. Police did not offer further details about the dispute.
Robinson said police believe it was a “potential road-rage incident.”
Latoya Bynum, who has lived at the Lake Fenwick Estates for a year, called the apartment complex near where the shooting occurred a “safe, quiet area, where people go to work, come home and take care of their kids.”
“Who would do something like this?” Bynum told the Seattle Times as she looked at the scene. “That could be anybody’s child. That could be my child.”