4 Year old Marquel Peters attended church with his mother on New Year’s eve and died after he was was struck by a stray bullet while his family awaited a 12:30a.m. concert.
The pastor of the Church of God of Prophecy said they were between late night Thursday services when the shooting occurred. Marquel Peters and his family were sitting in a smaller sanctuary with about 150 other people.
Some of the people at the church reported hearing a popping sound and debris started falling from the ceiling. The boy was struck in the head by the stray bullet, said DeKalb police.
“No one knew what it was,” said Garry Peters, Marquel’s uncle. “It was just crazy.”
When emergency officials arrived at the scene, Marquel was crying, Peters said. Still, there was no obvious indication of what had happened.
Marquel was transported by ambulance to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston, where he later died.
An X-ray at the hospital confirmed that it was a bullet that struck Marquel, his uncle said. Doctors at the hospital had hoped to do surgery on the child, but it was too late.
The pastor and the parishioners were still in the church when they learned of the child’s death at about 3:30 a.m., Phipps said. He said during the concert the boy’s family kept him updated on the child’s condition, which he believed was improving.
Investigators returned to the church later Friday, where they discovered the point of entry for the bullet: in the roof of the church. Phipps said police believe someone fired a celebratory shot into the air, and it went through the roof on its way down.
“It’s one of those things that you just cannot make any sense out of,” Phipps said. “This lady took her kid to church, which is the right thing to do. And her son got killed because of someone’s irresponsible behavior.”
If anyone has any information on the shooting they are urged to call police.