KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The family of the 11-year-old girl, Shonell "Nelly" Hamilton, who suffered multiple gunshot wounds Feb. 23 in a drive-by in south Kansas City, Missouri, is speaking out through clergy.
Frank Savory, the family's pastor, and two other church leaders talked to 41 Action News on Monday on the family's behalf.
"It's just a blessing that she is still here," Savory, who leads youth ministry at Highland Missionary Baptist Church, said
Nelly is still in the hospital and is recovering well, but the family said she remains in pain after bullets tore through her bedroom wall and struck her as she slept. A KCPD officer had to apply a tourniquet to help save Nelly's life.
Savory has a message for the suspect or suspects.
"I would encourage you to turn yourself in," he said, "and anyone who knows about this crime or who may have been with the perpetrator, you’re just as guilty as he is."
The police haven't named any suspects yet, but Savory said now is the time to speak up and support the family.
Nelly was shot in the arm and stomach. While she's expected to live, she also will have to undergo more surgeries.
"She’s traumatized," Savory said. "She still wakes up in middle of night screaming. This is something she has to live with for the rest of her life."
Nelly's dad died recently, which has hit the family hard.
Savory said Nelly's mother lost her job because she refused to leave the hospital.
Now, the electricity at the house is about to be shut off, so the family set up a GoFundMe page to help with expenses.
Nelly writes in her own words what happened, adding, "Me and my family appreciate everyone who has the heart to donate."
"She is so full of life," Savory said. "So, to see her laying in a hospital bed has been heart-wrenching and it hurts to see a child laying there."
The family needs justice more than anything, according to local clergy.
"It is your civic duty to come forth and say what you've seen, because you can’t wait until it happens to your house," Bishop Tony Caldwell with the Justice Center said.
Pastor John Jones, who is also with Highland Missionary Baptist Church, added: "If you know anything, be willing to share it with the police officers to help solve these crimes and to bring justice to Nelly and her family."
Highland Missionary Baptist Church is planning a musical fundraiser to help Nelly and her family.