A 9-year-old boy who was lying down in a booth at a church fundraiser died early Sunday after he was fatally struck by a stray bullet from a gun, Stanly County authorities said.
No arrests had been made by Monday morning.
The victim, identified as Jamorie Hall, was among hundreds at an annual fundraiser for Cottonville AME Zion Church. The church is on Plank Road in Norwood, in southern Stanly County.
Stanly County Sheriff Rick Burris said the shooting appears random and doesn't believe the boy was a target. It occurred around 12:30 a.m. Sunday during an argument. Witnesses told authorities someone had fired shots into the air, then into the crowd.
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A bullet went through the fabric of a food vending booth the boy was in, through two sides of a cardboard box and struck him in the head. Burris said he thinks the boy was lying down, possibly asleep. He was about 50 to 60 feet from the shooter.
Burris said the booth was believed to have been rented by the victim's grandmother. The grandmother, Rose Hall Williams, told the Observer's news partner, NewsChannel 36, that the victim's mother grabbed his hand after the shooting and pulled him to safety. Once they had gotten away from the shooting scene, Williams said, the mother noticed that her son was bleeding from the head.
Relatives then took the victim from the booth to meet emergency crews who responded to the scene, Burris said.
He was transported to Stanly Regional Medical Center, and then Carolinas Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead. Burris said the family is from Anson County.
Authorities found a spent .38 caliber shell, Burris said, but had not recovered the gun. Authorities were talking to some persons of interest.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Sheriff's Office or Crime Stoppers at 704-982-0711.
Cottonville AME Zion's pastor, Jeffrey Crump, told NewsChannel 36 that he was very upset about the shooting.
"It's sad when you're trying to have a church event, trying to lift up the name of Jesus, and then sometimes when you're trying to do what you think is right ... things from the outside come in and destroy what you're trying to do," Crump told WCNC. "It breaks your heart." Observer staff writer Steve Lyttle and NewsChannel 36 contributed.