CITRUS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – It was supposed to be a 4th of July to remember for all of the right reasons. Chad Burke Sr. had his son Chad Jr, his aunt, grandmother, and other family members over to his home in Lecanto to watch fireworks and have a good time. Chad Sr. had already set off a number of fireworks as his son watched.
“He was standing right here, I was setting mortars off over there where the black truck is at. They were outside playing I mean the whole neighborhood,” said Chad Sr. “I mean you could hear booms and pops.”
As the fireworks were launching and popping, something odd happened to his son.
“He jumped and let out the most blood-curdling scream you’ve ever heard in your life and I thought maybe that he was hit,” Chad Sr. recalled. “Maybe somebody shot a bottle rocket or something and it burned him at first.”
But it wasn’t a bottle rocket, it was a bullet. A stray bullet hit 12-year old Chad Burke Junior in the side with his father immediately running to his aid.
“As soon as I seen the bullet in his side, by then they had him laid down right here. I just laid down with him, it started to sprinkle a little bit. I got him over and put my hand under his head,” said Chad Sr. “And I just said everything’s going to be okay, baby. Ambulance is on the way. “
His mom, Kayla Pearson-Mckeown was at work at the time. She was on her way to the house when she got the call that Chad had been shot.
“At first when I heard Chad has been shot, I thought it was his dad,” said Pearson. “And then when I spoke to Chad’s grandmother and she let me know that it was my son.”
Paramedics rushed Chad Jr. to Ocala Regional Medical Center as weather and fireworks prevented them from flying him there.
From there he was transferred to Shands Hospital in Gainesville where he is currently recovering from the gunshot wound. Kayla used her phone to take a video of him thanking friends for their prayers and donations.
The family set up a GoFundMe page to aid with the mounting medical expenses.
Pearson-Mckeown says she wishes she could make her son’s pain go away.
“As a mom, I want to be able to protect him and I want to be able to take that pain from him,” said Pearson-Mckeown. “And there’s nothing I can do. “
She says her son is now feeling a bit better, but wants to know why this happened to him? “At first, that’s all he could say is why? Why would somebody do this? Why would somebody shoot me, mom? What did I do,” Pearson-Mckeown said. “We had to explain to him, you didn’t do anything wrong. It was an accident. “
The Citrus County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the case even if it was an accident, Sheriff Mike Prendergast says someone could be held responsible.
“Charges are possible… we do have to find what the intent was,” said the Sheriff. “Clearly it was a bullet wound and did enter the body of this victim. “
If you have any information about this case, please contact the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office Major Crimes Unit, Detective Ramos at 352-726-4488, or you may submit information anonymously to Crime Stoppers at 1-888-ANY-TIPS.
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