PORT RICHEY, Fla. (WFLA) –– The mother of a 1-year-old is facing charges after the child was shot in a drive-by.
Investigators are still searching for the suspect or suspects who fired at the sleeping baby’s home.
Pasco County Sheriff Chriss Nocco said the victim is expected to survive. “The absolute frightening thing is that crib was hit six times. I would say if you don’t have a faith you better believe because there were angles in that crib with that little baby,” Sheriff Nocco said.
Investigators rushed to the home in the 7300 block of Westcott Drive around 11:30 p.m. Sunday when they received a 911 call shots being fired into the home. A dark-colored sedan was observed stopping in front of the residence and then fleeing the area shortly after.
The baby girl was sleeping in a front bedroom and was shot once in the wrist, a Pasco County Sheriff’s Office spokesman said. She was taken to a local hospital.
Surveillance video from a nearby home shows ambulances arriving. A deputy is seen running out of the home with the baby, putting the little girl on a stretcher.
A front window was left riddled with at least a dozen bullet holes.
“It’s shocking to me,” neighbor Bridget Nixon said. “There (are) a lot of children who live on this street.”
During the investigation, deputies blocked off a large section of the neighborhood. Children walked by the crime scene on their way to school.
No one else in the home was injured.
Mother faces charges
Deputies said the shooting doesn’t appear to be random. The child’s mother, Linda Exline, is a “documented gang member,” they said.
“The criminal activity that was surrounding that house, it was unfortunate that these things occurred and how it occurred. Really right now we are trying to stop this violence before anybody gets hurt out there. She was documented because of gang tattoos and because she associated with gang members who are Valentine bloods,” Sheriff Nocco said.
Another adult in the home was arrested on drug charges. In addition, a third is a person of interest in a shooting from Aug. 25.
Exline had one other child in the home, who will be put into protective custody. Nocco said the court has already permanently removed a third child from Exline’s custody.
Meanwhile, Exline’s family said she has turned her life around.
The sheriff doesn’t buy that. “Well, she can tell whatever fairy tale she wants. She’s going to make up stories right now to try to not let the public not know the truth; the truth is her 1-year-old was shot because of criminal activity that surrounds that house. She’s reading some bad “Dr. Seuss” books because she is making it all up,” he said.
Crime Stoppers of Tampa Bay is offering a reward of up to $3,000 for information that leads to an arrest in this case. You can remain anonymous. Call 1-800-873-TIPS (8477), go to www.crimestopperstb.com or send a mobile tip using the P3 Tips mobile application.