Authorities in the vicinity of Charlotte, North Carolina, are actively searching for a man suspected of shooting a 6-year-old child and her parents after a basketball accidentally entered his property.
Gaston County Police have warned that Robert Louis Singletary, 24, is likely armed and dangerous. He stands 6-foot-2, weighs approximately 223 pounds, and has brown eyes and black hair.
Several neighbors claim the situation began on Tuesday when a basketball rolled into Singletary’s yard, prompting him to shout at the children who tried to retrieve it. One child informed their father, who then approached Singletary’s residence and reportedly said something along the lines of, “Stop swearing at my child; if there’s an issue, address it with me, and we can resolve it.” This account is corroborated by three neighbors.
According to the neighbors, Singletary subsequently went into his house, emerged with a firearm, and began shooting at the neighbors, resulting in injuries to a 6-year-old girl and her parents.
Jonathan Robertson, a neighbor, expressed his shock to CNN affiliate WBTV, saying, “We never expected anyone to pull out a gun with all those kids around. I mean, that was insane.”
The 6-year-old girl, who was hit in the cheek, recounted her perception of the events to WBTV, stating, “I couldn’t get inside in time, so he shot my daddy in the back.”
Ashley Hildebrand, the girl’s mother, informed NewPakWeb that doctors extracted bullet fragments from her daughter’s cheek, while she herself sustained a grazed elbow from a bullet. She stated that their family was not involved in the basketball game; instead, they were outside grilling, and her daughter was riding her bike.
Police have not confirmed the cause of the shooting in Gastonia on Tuesday night, citing the ongoing investigation.
This incident is one of several cases in the past week involving young individuals being shot after making innocent mistakes, such as two teenage cheerleaders who mistakenly approached someone else’s car in a Texas grocery store parking lot, a 16-year-old who rang the wrong doorbell in Kansas City, and a 20-year-old who accidentally entered the wrong driveway in New York.
These incidents highlight the repercussions of a nation that has more civilian firearms than inhabitants, as indicated by the Small Arms Survey, as well as the harmful mix of fear, suspicion, and mistrust that affects numerous individuals and results in violent acts.
In the Gaston County shooting, the father – identified by relatives as William “Jamie” White – suffered severe injuries and continues to receive treatment in the hospital, as reported by Police Chief Stephen Zill in a statement on Wednesday evening.
Debbie Wykle White, Jamie White’s mother, shared with CNN through a text message, “He is just taking it day by day. He’s in a lot of pain and he’s worried about his family with (the suspect) being on the run and him in the hospital not being able to protect his wife and kids.”
The police stated that the girl and her mother have been treated and discharged from the hospital. Another man was also shot at but remained unharmed, as mentioned in a police news release.
Police have obtained warrants for Singletary, including four counts of attempted first-degree murder, two counts of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury, and one count of possession of a firearm by a felon.
Police Chief Zill emphasized, “I want to say to the people of Gaston County – this sort of violence will not stand,” adding that the US Marshals Regional Fugitive Task Force is assisting in the search for Singletary.
Multiple neighbors at the scene informed CNN that Singletary had moved into his house only a few weeks prior and had frequently shouted at children for being on his property.
These neighbors characterized him as behaving as though he “hated children” in the community, often expressing anger about them playing in and running through his yard. They also mentioned that he had numerous conflicts with the children and their parents.
Robertson, who resides across the street, and another neighbor recounted that Singletary had a “look in his eyes” as he began walking towards other parents and children and started shooting.
These neighbors described Singletary with his arm extended, firing continuously “pow, pow, pow” while walking down the street. They reported that the scene was chaotic, with children and parents running through yards in an attempt to find safety.
The neighbors now feel very uneasy, and several of them told CNN that they have not slept due to fear, as Singletary remains at large and they worry he may return to the area.
In December, Singletary faced charges of assault and kidnapping after allegedly attacking his girlfriend with a mini-sledgehammer and confining her to his apartment for over two hours, according to a police statement.
Jennifer Davis, the Gaston County Superior Court clerk, stated that the charges are still pending, and Singletary has not yet entered a plea in the case. Records indicate that he was released on a $250,000 bond on December 15.
CNN has contacted Singletary’s defense attorney, Cameron Harrison, seeking additional comments.