CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Three minors were struck by gunfire within just a few hours in two related shootings in a northwest Charlotte neighborhood, according to police.
One of those victims was a 7-year-old girl, who is currently at the hospital in stable condition.
Police believe there were two groups fighting when members pulled out guns and started shooting at each other outside of an apartment around 7 p.m. on Marble Street.
Three police were arrested, CMPD chief Johnny Jennings said Wednesday.
The 7-year-old was accidentally hit by a stray bullet.
Four hours earlier, police say two boys -- ages 14 and 15 -- were shot about a mile from where the young girl was shot.
The two boys were shot in front of the Hope Mart on Hovis Road, on the same block where a man was shot with a 3-year-old child at his side nine days ago.
Police said a person in a white Mercedes Benz drove through and started shooting, striking both of the minors.
“My nephew wasn’t a good boy, he did his dirt, but I’m not going to say he did something where he needs to be a target,” said Dei Carter, one of the boys’ aunt.
Carter was very candid about the neighborhood’s decline.
“I ‘ain’t gonna sugarcoat nothing on no news,” Carter said. “This neighborhood ain’t no good.”
Police said a people in the Mercedes Benz drove up in front of the Hope Mart along Hovis Road pulled out guns and opened fire, striking two teenagers out front.
“They actually located two victims who are juvenile males,” said Brian Foley, with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department. “They fled the scene here and went to a nearby home where they called for help.”
Officers investigated as spent shell casing littered the roadway at two different, but nearby crime scenes.
One set of shells appeared to be from a higher caliber pistol, while the other looks to be a .223 shell. That round is normally fired from a long rife like an AR-15.
Sitting in between shooting scenes and just yards away was a preschool with children inside.
Dashia has three children there and also works at the school.
“This right here is ridiculous,” she said. “I have never seen anything like this before, never.”
Carter said the problem is a lack of community policing.
“You don’t have no police out here unless something like this happens,” Carter said.
Local churches try to help but feel disheartened when violence erupts in the streets.
“We have got to learn how to love. We have got to put the violence down the guns, the shootings,” said Pastor Betty Reid, pastor at nearby God’s Lighthouse Church. “We’ve got kids running around out here. It don’t help.”
Hours after the first shooting, on Marble Street, police learned the two shootings were connected.
“This is not the first time that I’ve had to talk to you about an innocent child struck by gunfire,” Foley said.
Police said they have a massive presence out there to make sure the violence stops.
“The fact that children are being struck by gunfire. I just don’t understand … why we don’t get the public outcry,” police said during a Wednesday press conference. “Please think before you pull that trigger.”
Officers are continuing to work through the night on these cases, but they’re asking for help from the public. “We need your help,” police said.