- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 10, 2013

Melissa Jaramillo didn’t hear a bang, nor did she see the person holding the gun. But she does remember what it feels like to be shot.

“It felt like a sting and sounded like a slap,” the 43-year-old Gainesville, Va., resident said. “It kind of made from my knee down go numb.”

Doctors told her the pain was caused by a small bullet, likely one from a .22-caliber handgun. But how she was shot while watching her son’s soccer game at a Manassas park is anyone’s guess.

“It is kind of an odd story,” said Officer Jonathan L. Perok, Prince William County police spokesman. “We don’t believe she was in any way targeted.”

The shooting happened in the George Hellwig Memorial Park. Located off Route 234, about 9 miles west off Interstate 95, the park is home to soccer fields, playgrounds, picnic areas, walking paths and a small library.

Ms. Jaramillo said she was sitting along the sidelines watching the game.

“It was Sunday afternoon, about 85 degrees and I was wearing shorts,” she said.

When she felt the sting, she said, she thought she had been hit by a BB or a small projectile. After the game, she went to a hospital, where doctors told her about the bullet and said it would work its way toward the skin’s surface so it could be removed.

Mrs. Jaramillo said a friend has heard gunshots near the park, but she did not hear any shots Sunday when she was injured.

Mrs. Jaramillo said she is healing and taking the questions from co-workers in stride. Although she said she isn’t coming down one way or the other on the issue of gun control, the random shooting does worry her.

“My son is out there four days a week if he has a game and three days for practice,” Mrs. Jaramillo said. “There’s tons of kids there all the time.”

Officer Perok said the police department fields occasional calls to report noises from Marine Corps Base Quantico, which abuts the park.

“The park is not in a city area,” Officer Perok said. “It’s a bunch of woods around there. The odds of someone out there hunting or shooting a gun, I don’t want to speculate, but it’s probably not uncommon.”

Stafford, Va., resident Sean McLaurin said he has refereed games at the park for roughly a decade. He said he wasn’t at the park Sunday but has heard gunshots during other games.

“I was there on Sept. 29, basically from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.,” Mr. McLaurin said in an email to The Washington Times. “I heard gunshots all day long. I heard both small arms and shotguns. At one point, there was so much shooting I asked one of my other referees if there was a range close by.”

Mrs. Jaramillo said the incident stresses the importance of gun safety training.

“It’s common sense,” she said. “It scares me somebody has a gun that doesn’t know how to use it.”



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