By DENISE DICK
Nine-year-old Kathryn Carter believes God allowed her to survive being shot so she could tell her story.
That’s what the Williamson Elementary School third-grader tells her mother, Natasha Clark.
Kathryn was sitting at the dining room table in her family’s East Judson Avenue home just after midnight April 2. The bullet went into her back and exited her chest.
Kathryn, who will return to school April 22, after spring break, visited her classmates Friday morning. A banner with “welcome back” messages hung in front of the school gymnasium, and students, teachers and classes gathered to see Kathryn.
“I heard a gunshot,” she told reporters before Friday’s assembly.
It hurt a lot and she screamed.
Her mother heard her screaming and came from another room to find out what was wrong. The family heard the gunshots — five total — but thought they were all outside.
“I came in and she was under the table,” Clark said. “I said, ‘What’s wrong? Are you OK?’ That’s when she moved enough that I could see the blood on her shirt.”
She immediately called 911.
The experience has made Clark and her family more alert, and she urges other families to be alert as well. She plans to be aware of what’s happening outside her home, and if she hears a dog barking to pay attention.
Clark wants the person or people responsible to turn themselves in.
“The guilt is just going to kill them,” she said. “I would think they’d think, ‘I shot a 9-year-old girl and she could have died.’”
The day after Kathryn’s shooting, police searched a Hilton Avenue residence and arrested Devante Scott, 19, on charges of possession of a defaced firearm and unlawful possession of a dangerous ordnance. The weapons didn’t match those used in the shooting, and Scott isn’t charged with that crime.
Principal Wanda Clark told Kathryn to look around the gymnasium at all of the people who love her, calling her “a walking miracle.”
“You are a trouper,” Wanda Clark said. “You are my hero.”
Students, teachers and staff made cards and gifts for the little girl, presenting them Friday.
Mayor John A. McNally gave Kathryn a certificate recognizing her courage and a key-to-the-city pin.
“In my four months in office, so far you’re the bravest person I’ve met,” he told her.
The school’s gospel choir sang a song in Kathryn’s honor, and Kathryn, a member, joined in.
Her teacher, Laurie Lamancusa, described Kathryn as a cooperative and helpful student who pays attention and does her work. Her classmates were concerned about Kathryn and very affected by what happened to her, the teacher said.
Students in Kathryn’s class lined up to visit their classmate, wishing her well and giving hugs.
Kathryn says she’s anxious to return to school “because I’ll get to stay with my friends.”