UPDATE: 2-year-old killed by stray bullet

By: Barbara Harrington; Mark Peterson Email
By: Barbara Harrington; Mark Peterson Email
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The South Bend community is in shock after a 2-year-old boy was shot and killed while playing outside.

Photos of 2-year-old John Jr.

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- The family of a 2-year-old that was shot last night has set up a memorial fund to help the family. To donate just go into any 1st Source Bank.

The South Bend community is in shock after a 2-year-old boy was shot and killed while playing outside.

Police say the call came in just after 6 p.m. in the 1000 block of Campeau Street.

Family members have identified the victim as John Swoveland Jr. Police say he was playing with his older sister in the front yard of their aunt's home when the shots rang out.

"Gang bangers want to shoot at each other? OK. That's still not right," said Lt. Dave Wells, assistant commander of Metro Homicide. "But, when you have a little 2-year-old kid on a sunny day playing outside in front of his house and he can't even play out there without fear of a drive-by shooter killing him? It's ridiculous."

Police interviewed witnesses and collected evidence Wednesday night, trying to determine what happened.

Police now say the shooting is connected to another shooting a little over one block east, near the intersection of Campeau and Arthur. Police responded to the shooting near Campeau and Arthur Streets and discovered that no one had been injured. Metro Homicide said Thursday an argument may have occurred between two rival groups which escalated into shots fired.

Metro Homicide believes one group ran from the other group westbound. Investigators say they believe, from evidence, that once the group fled, then shots were still fired, and a stray bullet hit 2-year-old Swoveland Jr.

“A stray bullet struck and killed two year old John Swoveland, Jr.” read a press release from the St. Joseph County Prosecutor. “An argument may have occurred between two rival groups near the intersection of Arthur and Campeau Streets which escalated into shots fired. It’s believed that one group ran from the other group in a westerly direction from the gun fight and was fired upon. Based on evidence gathered, investigators believe the group that fired shots may have continued to fire as the other group fled the scene.”

The conclusion was based on ballistics evidence gathered from both scenes and from extensive interviews with witnesses.

At this point, police have made no arrests and have no suspects in custody.

Donnie Price lives next door to the home where the shooting took place. Price says his daughter was playing outside with John Swoveland, Jr. and Swoveland’s seven yr. old sister when the shooting took place.

“My daughter is saying that the car, she was the one who identified the car, it came from that way straight down when it got to this area, the guy had shot in the car out the window,” said Price.

Price used his cell phone to capture video of paramedics arriving on the scene. “Then when the mom comes out of the house she was in a stance and stuff, there was like a little blood around the edge of the Pamper so when she pulled the shirt up she seen the gunshot wound.”

An autopsy completed this afternoon found that the boy died of a gunshot wound to the chest.

“Every life is important, every life we hold dear, it’s particularly, particularly disconcerting that someone so young, so vulnerable, so innocent was taken from our community,” said Deputy Mayor Mark Neal, (D) South Bend.

Metro Homicide has no suspects in custody.

"It's kind of hard to say, but I think that what happened to the baby needs to happen to [the suspects]," said Travis Debaillie, the baby's uncle. " I mean, it's bad. It's a baby. It shouldn't have happened this way."

Anyone with information is asked to call Metro Homicide or CrimeStoppers.



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