Victim: 'Mom, I'm sorry to say this, but I've been shot'

Plant High School sophomore struck in the leg

TAMPA - When Ellie Spada heard the shots, her first thought was that another group of kids was setting off firecrackers.  Her home along San Miguel Street in Palma Ceia is a main thoroughfare for teenagers walking on foot to and from football games at Plant High School, and loud noise is all too common.

But Spada's daughter heard something else.  

"She heard the screams," Spada said.  "The screams were it."

Both mother and daughter rushed outside their house to find two teenagers on a patch of grass at the intersection of San Miguel and S. Bendelow Trail.  One of the girls was using both hands to stop severe bleeding from her friend's leg.

"The one girl was holding the calf of the other," Spada said.  "She couldn't use her cell phone because she was holding that.  And we didn't bring phones.  So I started screaming 'someone call 9-1-1.'"

When paramedics arrived they found the 16-year old with a gunshot to her leg.  The victim and her friend were returning from the nearby football game around 10:30 p.m.  Tampa police said the two teens were confronted by a man in a vehicle, and after words were exchanged, the pair started running away.  That's when the suspect opened fire, striking one of the defenseless girls.

"I saw the size of the bullet wound and it was just creepy," Spada said.  "It was just a large wound."

The victim was hospitalized with non-life threatening injuries.  Police said after interviewing the two teens, they have several leads.

"We have one suspect that we're actively looking for at this time," said Tampa Police Lt. Ronald McMullins.

Particularly disturbing to parents living in the upscale neighborhood is that children often walk the streets in the area without fear.  Friday's shooting has alarmed several Plant High students.

"When they told me what it was, I was in shock," said Philip Spada, a Plant High School sophomore.  He walked by the shooting scene just minutes after the girl was shot.  "I've never heard of that happening, especially right next to the high school," Spada said.

The Hillsborough County School District said the shooting victim and her friend were sophomores at Plant High.

"They were honors students.  So it sounds like they were good kids who were just walking home from a football game," said Steve Hegarty, school district spokesman.

"We're having discussion about security in and around our campus," Hegarty said.  "This happened off campus, but still you would think that kids would be able to walk home from a football game."  

Spada said she was still stunned by the whole experience of witnessing the incident right in front of her home.  She remembered how brave the teenage girl was, despite being treated for a gunshot wound.

"She was face down in the grass on her cell phone," said Spada, recalling what she told her mother.  "'Mom, I'm sorry to say this, but I've been shot,'" Spada said.  "I mean, can you imagine?"  


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