Family identifies 4-year-old critically injured in Memphis shooting

Published: Feb. 21, 2022 at 5:18 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Family has identified the 4-year-old who was shot in a drive-by shooting Friday night as Itali Oakley.

Her grandmother sat down with Action News 5 to describe the details of what happened that night.

Charlene Dearing, the grandmother, and her family were getting ready to leave her home on South Perkins for a bite to eat Friday night, a celebration for her getting a new job, but Dearing changed her mind and decided to turn in for the night.

“I didn’t lay down but a good five minutes, and I heard something,” Dearing said. “I thought it was a wreck. I said ‘Oh no. there’s been an accident.’ It sounded like ‘boom! boom!’ I didn’t know it was gunshots.”

The bullets hit Dearing’s car, where inside was Itali.

The next thing Dearing knows, there are fists banging on her door. It was her daughter telling her to call 911.

“[Itali’s] father had her in his arms,” the grandmother said. “He was telling her, ‘Itali, please don’t go to sleep. Don’t go to sleep. Don’t go to sleep.’”

After what felt like ages, an ambulance arrived on the scene, and Itali was taken to Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital. According to Dearing, her granddaughter was in surgery for the next seven hours and as of Monday evening is still fighting for her life.

During that time, restless Dearing sat with fear and angst, not knowing if the shooters would return that night.

“I didn’t know if they were going to come back and shoot some more,” she said.

Dearing claims to have no idea who would want to harm her or her family but has a message for whoever is responsible for what happened to her granddaughter.

“I say this to the shooter, I pray for you,” Dearing said. “I pray that God heals your heart. I pray he heals your family as well because that’s somebody’s child.”

Police have only released that the suspect or suspects drove a dark-colored sedan.

Anyone with information is urged to call Memphis Crime Stoppers at 901-528-CASH.

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