Officer's Bullet Meant for Stray Dog Hits Little Leaguer
Posted June 10, 1999 7:00 a.m. EDT
MEBANE — Gunshots rang out in the distance just before the first pitch of a Little League baseball game Friday in Alamance County. A young player was shot in the leg, and the gun was fired by a police officer.
Parents said when it happened, they thought it was another random mass shooting. Parents and players were all shaken up, and the little boy in the middle of the chaos will never forget it.
"I said when something hit me, 'I've been shot, I've been shot,'" said 10-year-old Nathan Tilley, who says he knew a bullet hit him the minute it happened.
"It felt like a thousand bees stinging all in one place," he said.
Tilley said he just went to get a drink of water.
"Right before that I heard three gun shots, pow, pow, pow, then I heard a sound like a sonic boom, it scared me," Tilley said.
The incident happened at the Mebane baseball complex. Officer Terrence Caldwell was supposedly 300 to 400 yards behind the tree line bordering the field. Somehow a bullet he fired made its way across the field and struck the little boy standing near a brick building behind third base.
The police officer was allegedly shooting at a pack of stray dogs. The department had received complaints about them from nearby residents.
"We were all shocked," said Lorna Perry, a Little League mom. She questions the officer's quickness on the draw and his apparent neglect to use better judgment.
"Maybe he should not do it then, being that many people were at a ball field," she said. "Could he not hear that many children were screaming or rooting for their team?"
TheState Bureau of Investigationis now looking into this incident. The officer in question is on temporary administrative leave. As for Tilley, his baseball season is over for now. He also says he understands the officer did not mean to shoot.