ASBURY PARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — An 8-year-old girl was grazed in the head by a stray bullet during an exchange of gunfire between police and a suspect in Asbury Park, authorities said.
It happened around 7:30 p.m. Wednesday near Springwood Avenue.
Police said it began with a confrontation with a suspect. They said the suspect, Dante Allen, 20, was trying to get away and began shooting at police, who fired back.
Tasha McLean described the moments of panic as she watched her neighbor run screaming outside her home moments after the stray bullet pierced the siding of her house on Borden Avenue.
“She said, ‘My baby got shot, my baby got shot!'” McLean told CBS2’s Janelle Burrell. “Being a mother, she was panicking. I was panicking. Everyone on the block was panicking. It was terrible.”
“She was holding her daughter in a towel,” said neighbor Kyraun Wilson. “I ran to the corner, flagged the officer down and said, ‘Come, come, her kid, her kid, her kid!'”
“She was in shock. She didn’t know what to do,” another neighbor told WCBS 880’s Levon Putney. “Next thing you know she started screaming, ‘Help me,’ and everybody ran to her rescue.”
The wayward bullet grazed the forehead of the little girl, who was inside watching TV.
“It woke me up right out of my sleep it was so loud,” said Derek Reevey, who lives next door. “It sounded like it was right in front of my door. My wife, she actually had to duck because of the stray bullets.”
The girl was treated and released from a hospital. A picture shows her in her hospital bed just after getting stitches Wednesday night.
Police said the suspect was also hit by a bullet in the gunfight, but was not seriously hurt. He was taken into custody and to a local hospital.
The officer “did a pat-down on that individual and felt a gun,” said Monmouth County Prosecutor Chris Gramiccioni. “The individual took off. There was a foot pursuit. Dante Allen shot first at the police officer that was pursuing him. The police officer returned fire.”
A friend of Allen’s, however, came to the suspect’s defense.
“He was coming out of the store,” the woman told CBS2’s Christine Sloan. “The cop tried to stop him. He wouldn’t stop. … He’s a victim. He was shot. He did not shoot at the police. He was shot.”
Gramiccioni said authorities have surveillance video that backs up their account that Allen opened fire first.
The officer was not shot. He has been placed on paid administrative leave while authorities investigate.
Allen has been charged with attempted murder and having hallow-point bullets in his weapon and on him. He is being held on $1 million bail.
The prosecutor said police recovered a semi-automatic handgun next to Allen.
At this point, it’s not clear if the bullet that grazed the little girl came from the suspect’s weapon or if it was from the officer’s gun.
Many in the area know the suspect and his family.
“He has some troubles, but he’s not a bad guy,” one man said. “We all grew up together. All of this nonsense around here, cops and people alike, need to cut it out.”