An 8-year-old boy was paralyzed after he was shot by a stray bullet on an Oakland freeway.
The shooting: Asa (surname redacted) was riding in his family’s car on Interstate-580 near the Harrison Street exit when their vehicle was caught in a crossfire between two other vehicles that started shooting at each other on July 14. Asa was immediately rushed to the Oakland Children’s Hospital in critical condition.
“Bullet and bone fragments pierced (and some lodged in) the spinal column of his neck. Initially, we had no idea if our sweet boy would live. But he is a fighter, and we have gotten and are getting the best possible medical care,” his parents, Melissa Neuwelt and Caesar Luo, wrote on GoFundMe.
Asa’s “new reality”: The parents described their child as a “soccer enthusiast, math wizard and devoted brother and friend.” Although they are grateful that their son is alive, they note that he is “experiencing complete paralysis below the neck.”
“His body is forever changed,” they wrote. “We are also starting to understand the vast implications of his new reality. Moving forward, Asa will require a mechanical respirator to live, tube feeds for nutrition, and 24-hour, around-the-clock nursing care.”
GoFundMe fundraiser: Asa’s parents have turned to the public for donations in Asa’s ongoing care, which they estimate would exceed a million dollars in the first year alone due to the high costs of rehabilitation, home modifications and equipment for Asa’s homecoming.
“We hope you never know pain like this. At the same time, we hope that you may know (as we now do) the exquisite gift of children’s resilience,” the parents said. “Once we’ve wrapped our minds around our new lives with Asa, we’ll be ready to join you all in the fight to stop this from happening to any other child, ever again.”
The family has raised more than $347,000 on GoFundMe as of this writing.
Investigation: The suspect vehicles involved were reportedly a dark gray SUV and a maroon SUV, according to Kron4. No arrests have been made.
Asa is the third child to have been hit by stray bullets on Bay Area freeways in recent years. In November 2021, Jasper Wu, a 23-month-old toddler, was killed by a stray bullet while he and his family were driving on Interstate 880 in Oakland. Last month, Eliyanah Crisostomo, 5, was also shot dead by three gang members on a freeway in Fremont.