Vigil held for Pine Hills teen shot in head by stray bullet

Victim's sister: Shooters are 'cowards'

Photo courtesy Facebook
Photo courtesy Facebook (Photo courtesy Facebook)

PINE HILLS, Fla. – As a teen sits on life support at an Orlando hospital, her family is making a public plea for information about the person who pulled the trigger that sent stray bullets into a family van.

Danielle Sampson, 15, and her family were going to celebrate her mother's birthday when they stopped at a bus stop to pick up a friend and heard gunfire. Investigators said it was crossfire between two oncoming cars.

Danielle's dad tried to swerve out of the way, but it was too late; the Apopka High School sophomore was already slumped over in the back seat.

Despite the shooting happening in a busy neighborhood during daylight, the shooters remain on the loose.

When the stray bullets flew through the family van, one lodged inside Sampson's brain. Days later, she's still in critical condition, and now her older sister has a message for whoever pulled the trigger.

"You're driving. You're firing out the window. What do you think is going to happen? I think they're cowards," said Baje Fletcher, who said her parents have sat beside her sister's hospital bed ever since the shooting. "You're going to get caught. You told somebody. Somebody saw. You're going to get caught and get what you deserve."

Speaking to a crowd of friends and classmates on Wednesday evening outside the Wells of Hope Church in Pine Hills, Fletcher said her family's message is one of hope. Hope that Danielle recovers, and hope that this senseless crime doesn't happen to someone else's child.

It's a lesson even her young friends hope the shooters will learn.

"I just think they should stop what they're doing because it shows that it can happen to anyone. I don't think they would want this to happen to their child, their sister. It's not fair," said Naysa Smith, who has been friends with Sampson for seven years. "She was always there for anybody, no matter who it was, no matter how you were feeling. She was always there with a hug."

A reward to help catch the shooters started at $1,000 but increased to $25,000 thanks to donations from Attorney Dan Newlin.

Investigators are searching for a charcoal-colored SUV and a tan car that are believed to be involved in the shooting.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crimeline at 800-423-TIPS.