A 16-year-old girl was shot Thursday morning half a block from her home while she walked to school in Chicago.
The teen, who asked to be identified only as Alex, told NBC 5 she was walking to school with a friend around 8:30 a.m. in the 1400 block of North Kildare Avenue in Chicago’s West Humboldt Park neighborhood and didn't notice an exchange of gunfire happening on the street.
"I heard two shots behind me and that's when the third shot hit me like a paintball like right behind so I started running," she said.
Authorities believe the girl was not the intended target and may have been struck by a stray bullet. Nearby residents described a shootout involving someone in a car and a U-Haul driver.
"They had a shootout," said one witness, who wished to remain anonymous for safety concerns. "They were shooting back and forth at each other."
The teen girl told officers she was walking on the street when she heard gunshots and felt pain in her leg, according to Officer Jose Estrada with Chicago Police News Affairs. She was taken to Illinois Masonic Medical Center in stable condition, officials said.
Witnesses reported seeing a shootout near the scene, but police could not immediately confirm that information. According to area residents, someone inside a vehicle opened fire at a U-Haul and the U-Haul driver fired back.
The U-Haul driver attempted to get away, but crashed into a parked car, causing damage to several vehicles, witnesses said.
Crecia Vinson said her car was among those damaged in the crash.
"I was just hoping it was some bullet holes," she said. "But that's a whole lot of damage. Not replacable at all."
Alex said the bullet was still in her leg when she returned home from the hospital hours later, but her family said with rest and eventually surgery, she is expected to recover.
Neighbors said the shooting is frightening as it happened at a time when other children were walking to school. The teen is the second unintended victim to be shot by a stray bullet in the city in the past week.
On Friday, 25-year-old Aaren O'Connor was shot while returning from work in the city's Heart of Chicago neighborhood. She died two days later, her family said.
"The violence just needs to stop," Vinson said. "This nonsense about shooting, riding down the street, killing our kids and damaging each other's property, it's sad. It needs to stop... I just pray the little girl is OK and she comes out on top and whoever is responsible goes down for what happened."
Alex told NBC Chicago she plans to spread an anti-violence message in her community following the shooting.
"I hate violence," she said. "I try to help [prevent] violence and the fact that it happened to me now- it gives me more time to actually tell people the experience and the violence just needs to stop."