By Rick Pfeiffer and Justin Sondel
Niagara Gazette — Falls police are looking for a gunman who wounded a small child in what may have been a targeted, gang-related shooting.
Late Tuesday night, Police Superintendent John Chella said investigators were making progress.
"We have identified a person of interest and we are looking for him," Chella said.
Detectives were also searching for the man they believe was the target of the attack.
Police said the gunfire erupted in the parking lot of the Hometown Market at 17th Street and Pierce Avenue early Tuesday afternoon. It's not clear whether the 3-year-old child, who was wounded, was actually struck by a bullet or by broken glass.
Capt. John DeMarco said a woman pulled her car into the convenience store parking lot, with a male passenger in the front seat and her daughter in the rear seat, and then went inside the market.
"While she was inside there were gunshots, we've been told between three and four gunshots, fired at the car," DeMarco said. "The male in the front seat noticed that the child appeared to be bleeding and jumped into the driver's seat. The (child's) mother came out and hopped in the car and they drove to (Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center)."
The child was treated and stabilized at Memorial Medical Center and then transferred to Women and Children's Hospital in Buffalo. The extent of the child's injuries were not immediately available, though police said it appeared she had been wounded in the face.
Detectives have questioned the child's mother. They are looking for the male passenger who was in the car, but fled from the hospital before police arrived.
Sources have told the Gazette the man may have a gang affiliation and while investigators believe he was the targeted victim they're unclear on the motive for the shooting.
Terry Losell, a 27-year resident of the neighborhood, said she was awakened by the sound of three gun shots as she napped on her couch a few blocks away Tuesday afternoon.
"I don't believe it was meant for the baby," she said. "There was people arguing and fighting and instead of throwing their hands, they've gotta throw their guns. That's just the way it goes these days."