Family says teen paralyzed after shooting at Orlando park

Published On: Jan 30 2013 04:30:04 PM EST
Updated On: Jan 22 2013 11:35:28 AM EST

Orlando police say a 16-year-old was seriously injured after he was shot at a park.

ORLANDO, Fla. -

Relatives of a teen who was shot while playing basketball at a local park said the 16-year-old is now paralyzed from the waist-down.

The shooting happened after 5 p.m. Monday evening inside a basketball court at Willie Mays Park.

Witnesses told police the shooting was an accident. Police said the shooter, a 17-year-old boy, had a gun stuck in his waistband. While he was playing basketball, someone bumped into him and the gun went off when he was checking it, said police.

Relatives said Mario Whitehead, 16, was playing basketball when he felt the single gunshot. His brother raced to the park to help.

"He was laying on the court. So, I went over there, held his hand, tried to keep him calm because he was really scared," said Marvin Giles, the victim's brother. "He just kept telling me, 'Don't stop talking to me. Just keep talking to me.'"

Giles said his brother was shot in the shoulder. Relatives told Local 6 doctors have been unable to remove the bullet, and he now is paralyzed.

While his family is thankful he is alive, they know the bullet could have hit anyone in the large crowd.

"It could have been anybody," said Giles. "It could have been my youngest brother. It could have been me. It could have been anybody. Yeah, it's scary."

Orlando police said the shooting was likely an accident, but relatives believe the shooter had no business bringing a gun into a crowded park, and they think he should be behind bars.

"I think that everyone needs to be honest and put it out there," said Rosalyn Smith, the victim's aunt. "He needs to be off the streets. I don't know why they're protecting him."

Police arrested the shooter on charges of carrying a concealed firearm, improper exhibition of a dangerous firearm, discharging firearm in public, possession of a firearm by a minor and culpable negligence causing injury. The shooter was taken to the JAC for processing.

Relatives said Whitehead plays at the park daily, but he told his brother after the shooting that he did not want to return again.

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