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 in an apparent case of road rage.
Baby Malaja was struck by one of five bullets fired into her family's car by a stranger after adults in her family got into a dispute with another driver in the Seattle suburb of Kent Thursday evening. The tot, who was strapped in her car seat in the back of her family's silver Chevroley Impala, was initially reported dead, but officials said late Thursday she was fighting for her life. A family member told KIRO 7 that she has been declared brain dead.
"We need to stop the Seattle violence," the baby's uncle, Edmond "Mackie" McNeil, told the station.
Police said the incident began when the car Malaja was riding in and a black car tried to turn at the same time, and the two parties started arguing. The fight escalated, and at least one person in the black car opened fire on the silver vehicle, police said.
Malaja was rushed to Harborview Medical Center, 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 asked as she looked at the scene. “That could be anybody’s child. That could be my child.”