JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- One moment they were throwing a football around, the next they were running for their lives.
"I didn't feel it," said one of two teen victims of gunfire just before sunset Thursday. The 13-year-old told First Coast News he was playing football with an 11-year-old friend near the corner of Lewis and Goodwin Streets.
"We were outside and this car just pulls up and just starts shooting," he explained.
The boy's family asked that we not publish their identities. They and neighbors heard the gunshots.
"It was like 'pop-pop-pop-pop-pop,'" the 13-year-old's grandmother said. "It was like seven or eight times."
Victims and police say they don't believe the boys were intended targets.
"They were aiming at somebody else," the teen said. "Because this car just got shot up. And [the owner] just simply said they were shooting at him."
Asked whether the car's owner had indicated any reason he might be a target, the boy answered no.
"He said he was doing nothing wrong, that he didn't do nothing to nobody."
On Friday night, JSO released new photos of the suspect vehicle:
The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office said the boy's 11-year-old companion suffered a broken leg bone caused by a bullet. The boy we met told us his friend had sustained a hairline fracture.
The 13-year-old showed us what appeared to be grazing wounds that the J.S.O. reported were the result of shrapnel.
"I looked at my leg when I got inside the house," he said, explaining that about three minutes had elapsed since the shooting. "I sat on that sofa right there," he continued, gesturing from his bedroom to the living room. "My leg was full of blood."
The Sheriff's Office reported that the suspect vehicle might be a black older-model Ford with a push bumper, possibly a former police vehicle.
The pre-dusk shooting was the first of three Thursday evening. In another, 37-year-old Jennifer Embree was killed at a home in the 10600 block of East Pine Estates Road. An unidentified man was critically injured in the 11:40 PM shooting and taken to UF Health. The third shooting, just before midnight outside the Cocktails Lounge strip club on Lane Avenue South, left an unidentified man seriously injured.
First Coast News reached out to Mayor Lenny Curry for comment and he sent us the following statement:
“I spoke with Sheriff Williams this morning and am heartbroken to learn about the senseless violence that took place last night. Too many kids wake up in areas of our city where violence stands in the way of their hopes and dreams. As a candidate for Mayor, I explained that I would make Jacksonville a place where all of our city’s children, including my own, can grow up seeing their dreams come true, and I remain committed to this effort by improving public safety in our city. Over the past two years, my administration has made a number of notable investments in public safety, including funding that allowed our sheriff to add more police and community service officers to our streets, as well as invest in new equipment and technology to help law enforcement address crime more efficiently. We also established the Kids Hope Alliance (KHA) to provide programming, support and resources to programs that serve our city’s most vulnerable youth. My administration and I will continue to support and prioritize efforts that address violence while working collaboratively with Sheriff Williams and his team to protect citizens throughout the city.”