Mother: 11-year-old boy injured in Santa Rosa park shooting is 'not the same kid'

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As we anguish from the plague of mass shootings, a boy who took a stray bullet as he left soccer practice in Santa Rosa two months ago resists the fear that would have him simply hide from the world from now on.

“He’s not the same kid,” the sweet-tempered 11-year-old’s distraught mother told me. “He’s afraid something’s going to happen to him, or to us.”

I know the names of the boy and his mom but won’t mention them because they’re frightened they could be targeted by associates of the three suspected gang members arrested in connection with the June 5 shootings at Jacobs Park.

Witnesses said there was an exchange of words between a young man in an SUV on West Ninth Street and one on the fringe of the park, then a man stepped from the vehicle and sprayed bullets from a semiautomatic pistol. Slugs struck the boy who’d just finished soccer practice, the young man the gunman evidently was aiming for and two others.

The soccer player was hit in his groin. His mother said the injury grieves him and probably always will.

One bright spot is that the boy, who’ll turn 12 in September, has resumed playing soccer. But he’s a long ways from being fully back in the game.

A relative has created a GoFundMe appeal to help his parents with the medical bills and the loss of income they sustained while staying home to care for him.

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