Keira Harrison often preferred to stay indoors rather than spend time outside at her Roxbury apartment complex, but at her family’s urging, the teenager decided to go outside to watch the Fourth of July fireworks with friends.
At about 12:30 Tuesday morning, it got quiet. Then gunfire erupted in what Harrison’s family called a senseless act of violence that injured the 14-year-old girl, her 19-year-old friend, and a 17-year-old boy.
Harrison was struck once in the knee and twice in the arm. Harrison’s family said she was set to undergo surgery at Boston Children’s Hospital to have the bullets removed from her body.
“It was like a nightmare,” Kim Harrison, Keira Harrison’s aunt, said of the shooting. “My mother always tells her to go outside and she says, ‘OK I’ll go outside and enjoy the fireworks,’ and this is what happens. At 14 you shouldn’t have to go through that.”
Police said the shooting on Martin Luther King Boulevard did not appear to be random, and the investigation is ongoing. No arrests had been made as of Tuesday evening.
Keira’s older sister, Kamaya Harrison, 18, said she and her sister were with about seven other people in a courtyard talking, laughing, and watching the fireworks when it suddenly became eerily quiet.
A thin man with a white hat stood in a walkway near some benches, pulled out a gun and opened fire, she said.
“Everyone ran,” Kamaya Harrison said. “I called out my sister’s name and I didn’t hear anything.”
She retraced her steps and found her younger sister on the ground. Nearby was their friend, Eva Valdez, clutching her stomach where she was grazed by a bullet.
“I started crying,” Kamaya Harrison said. “I couldn’t move at the time. It was so unreal.”
Valdez, who is 19, was taken to Boston Medical Center for treatment, police said.
Her mother, Carmen Villalona, said in Spanish that her daughter had just returned home from watching a fireworks display outside the city when she was shot.
“It was so quick that [Eva] didn’t know what happened,” Villalona said.
The 17-year-old boy was shot in the leg and was taken to Brigham and Women’s Hospital, police said. All three are expected to survive their injuries.
Kamaya Harrison said Keira, whom the family calls “Keke,” is set to start the ninth grade at the Jeremiah E. Burke High School in Dorchester. The two had planned to look for summer jobs, but now the teenager will have to focus on recovering.
Harrison’s grandmother, Betty King, 71, said her granddaughter is usually in the house, on the computer or her iPhone.
“I don’t understand how people can be so senseless, thoughtless, and can shoot in a crowd like that and don’t have no way of knowing who they’re shooting at,” King said.
According to Boston Police Department statistics, five shootings were reported in Boston between Thursday night and Tuesday, a time frame that includes the Fourth of July holiday weekend. Last year, during the same time period, there were 14 shootings over the holiday weekend, records show. Two were fatal.
An earlier version of this story misspelled the name of Carmen Villalona.