Several people armed with BB guns fired into a crowd of teenagers in Loudoun County on Halloween night, injuring a 14-year-old girl, another victim in a series of BB shootings in Northern Virginia, officials said yesterday.
Police don't believe the shooting, in which the girl was hit between the nose and an eye and taken to an emergency room, is related to other recent shootings in Arlington County, Alexandria and Manassas. A pedestrian was shot in the leg, two businesses were damaged and dozens of car windows were shattered in separate incidents last week.
In the latest shooting, a 10-year-old boy was hit in the head by a BB while playing in his Alexandria yard about 8 last night, police said. He was not seriously injured.
The Sterling attack came as the American Academy of Pediatrics released a report yesterday that highlights the dangers of BB guns and other weapons -- pellet guns, air rifles and paintball guns -- that use compressed air instead of gunpowder to launch projectiles.
The report says such guns killed 39 people nationwide, including 32 children 15 and younger, between 1990 and 2000. In 2000, nearly 22,000 injuries related to such guns required treatment in emergency rooms. BB guns and other such weapons, the report says, are nearly as powerful in velocity as traditional firearms.
"The prevailing cultural attitude is that these guns are toys, but they can be used as weapons and they can be absolutely lethal," Denise Dowd, an emergency room doctor in Kansas City, Mo., said.
"If they're fired at close range, they can penetrate the skull and the brain, go through the abdominal wall, collapse someone's lung or perforate their bowels."
In Sterling, the 14-year-old girl had been standing with a group of about 20 friends near a house on Kentwell Place near Woodmere Court, law enforcement officials said. About 8:30 p.m., BBs suddenly started flying at the teenagers.
Struck on the neck, arms and face, the teenagers began running inside, said Loudoun County Sheriff's spokesman Kraig Troxell. The 14-year-old was cut near her eye and treated at Loudoun Hospital and released. No one else was injured severely enough to require hospitalization, Troxell said.
He said investigators have several suspects, including as many as four teenagers who might have been wearing black clothing.
The Sterling attack followed by less than one week a series of other shootings with BB guns.