March 17, 2003 – A 13-year-old girl was reported paralyzed from the waist down on Monday after she and an off-duty police officer were struck during a drive-by shooting over the weekend.
Shortly after 10 p.m. Saturday, a person or persons inside a white car believed to be a Mitsubishi Mirage opened fire on a group of people gathered around a stoop at the Candido Guadalupe housing community in Estate Fredensborg, Capt. Melbourne Adams, acting deputy police chief, said Monday afternoon.
A 9mm semi-automatic handgun was used to discharge eight to 10 shots into the crowd, Adams said. He said the gunfire was likely in retaliation against someone in that group. "We are still looking for the person who may have been the intended victim," he said.
Apparently missing the intended target, the gunfire wounded Xiomora Hernandez, 13, in the back and Officer Franchat Hodge, 31, in the leg, Adams said.
A bullet is apparently lodged in Xiomora's spine, Adams said, and the girl is paralyzed from the waist down. She is a resident of St. Croix and was visiting her aunt at Candido Guadeloupe for the weekend, he said.
Hospital spokeswoman Carole Lee said she had no information on the girl's condition.
Hodge, who was at the housing community visiting friends, was struck in the left thigh, Adams said. A bullet entered and exited the officer's leg, and he was taken to the hospital for treatment and later released.
Hodge pulled his weapon after the shootings, Adams said, but was unable to take action, as the incident happened quickly and he was injured.
Adams said police have very little information about the vehicle and urged community members to come forward with any information they have relating to the shootings. He asked that anyone with information on this or other crimes call the police at 778-4950 or 911.
The incident was reminiscent of one three years ago in which an exchange of gunfire between two moving vehicles wounded two bystanders outside the Sunny Isle Kmart. In that case, a 12-year-old girl and a 55-year-old man were the innocent victims.
Last week, testifying before the new Senate Public Safety; Judiciary, Homeland Security and Justice Committee, Police Commissioner Franz Christian cited a lack of community cooperation in providing information as one of the reasons so many crimes in the territory remain unsolved. (See "Lack of funding called biggest security problem".)

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