Chris Rodriguez was taking a piano lesson around 4:30 p.m. on Jan. 10, 2008, at a North Oakland music school. Across the street, an inebriated man robbed a gas station, firing three shots at an attendant.
None of the bullets hit their intended target.
Instead, one cut through the school’s wall and Chris’ spine, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, paralyzing the 10-year-old boy’s legs.
That shooting spurred the Violence Prevention Research Program at UC Davis to examine stray bullet injuries and deaths.
The findings from a year’s worth of data, to be published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, show Chris’ case was not an anomaly. Young children make up a disproportionate number of victims, and buildings do not reliably stop bullets.
There is no data set that tracks stray bullet injuries in the United States. So Dr. Garen Wintemute, the program director, and his research team relied on press reports of such shootings from March 2008 through February 2009.
Kids ages 14 and younger made up about 31 percent of the 317 people hit by stray bullets nationwide in cases the study identified (see chart below for full details). This age group accounts for only 20 percent of the general population, U.S. Census Bureau data shows.
A majority of the shootings were “incidental to violence,” but 81 percent of those wounded did not know who pulled the trigger. Read more.