A month after bullet grazed 8-year-old, family still wants answers
It's been a month since an 8-year-old Asbury Park girl was grazed by a bullet in the crossfire of a shootout between a suspect and a local police officer. The family is still traumatized by the incident and they say they're no closer to getting answers about what exactly transpired or whose bullet injured her.
Family members of Cassie Jones told the Asbury Park Press that they still can't bring themselves to go into the room where the child was watching a movie on Nov. 4 when a stray bullet grazed her forehead.
Last month, Monmouth County First Assistant Prosecutor Marc LeMeiux said bullets were fired both by suspect Dante Allen, 19, and Asbury Park Officer Terrence McGhee in the incident.
The shootout began when the officer attempted to make a “lawful investigatory stop” when the suspect fled. McGhee chased Allen, who Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni said fired the first shot, according to a video obtained by police. In accordance with protocol, McGhee was placed on administrative leave after the incident. Allen was charged with attempted murder, two counts of unlawful possession of a weapon and possession of a weapon for unlawful purpose.
Immediately following the incident, authorities sent evidence to a ballistics lab to confirm whose weapon discharged the bullet that injured Jones, but the investigation was expected to take several weeks. In the meantime, the young girl's mother told the Asbury Park Press that she and her daughters have all slept together in another bedroom, because it's the only place in the house where they feel safe.
After the shooting took place, the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office paid for them to stay in a hotel for a few days. They hoped they wouldn't have to return to the "dilapidated" Borden Avenue house they rented, but no offers for alternative housing were presented, so they moved back in.
The publication stated that Cassie is a third grade special-education student at Thurgood Marshall Middle School. She's an honor roll student, but since the shooting, she's suffered from daily headaches and struggles to complete her homework. Her mother is planning to take her to see a neurologist about the medical issues.
To make matters worse, the family is still waiting for the prosecutor's officer to release information and video of the shootout.
Asbury Park Press reports that a group of local representatives, called the “Justice for Cassie Coalition,” has pressed the prosecutor’s office for information but have yet to receive any answers.
"The coalition, which formed to represent the Jones family, is seeking ballistic records, therapy options for young Cassie and her 6-year-old sister, and public updates of the investigation—including the video," Asbury Park Press reported.
Jones says she wants to know whose bullet grazed her daughter's head. The prosecutor's office has refused to provide any additional comments on the case, since the investigation is ongoing.
Toniann Antonelli is the digital managing editor at NJ 101.5. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @ToniRadio1015.