WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Police have increased patrols in downtown Wilmington following a drive-by paintball shooting Monday night. A woman said she was hit by paintballs in both her jaw and hip while walking to her car along the 100 block of Walnut Street with friends.
The woman, who wanted to remain anonymous, said her friend was also injured. She said it was around 10:45 p.m. when a black vehicle sped by and the driver fired a paintball gun. The women quickly ducked behind a vehicle, thinking they had been hit by a bullet.
“I just know that I was completely terrified," the victim said. "My hands were trembling, my voice still kind of shakes when I talk about it, but it was just, I mean, the only way I can describe it is traumatic.”
Surveillance images from a building on Walnut Street show the car approach and the women ducking behind it in a panic.
“The situation could have been a lot worse. So we just wanted everyone to be aware of the situation, given the amount of gun violence we see today, we’re extremely lucky and the situation could have been drastically different,” she said.
Todd Toconis says he’s lived downtown for almost thirty years and has never felt unsafe, but he wants those responsible brought to justice. He knows the family of one victim and has seen surveillance video from Monday night.
“All of a sudden, panic ensued and one of them dropped to the ground, she might have been hit, the others took cover behind the truck, and there was a panic that happened. I know that some of the girls were hit in the face, I know they were hit in the legs and other body parts and the shots that went past them hit the community college,” Toconis said. “Even though it was a paintball gun, that still hurts and in the moment of the attack, you don’t know what’s hitting you.”
“I think the police told [the victims] that this kind of thing happens all the time, and if this happens all the time, I want to know why it isn’t public information so we can be more vigilant,” Toconis added.
Wilmington Police Spokeswoman Linda Thompson confirms officers responded to both Front and Walnut Streets regarding individuals in a black Nissan shooting a paintball gun Monday night. The full police report is still pending and has not yet been released.
The victim says she can’t help but wonder about the shooter’s motive.
“What if we were target practice? We kind of want to treat it as the real thing and hope to prevent anything else tragic that could happen,” she said.