A 15-year-old girl who was shot in the neck while eating lunch outside of her Cape Fear high school wrote a note from her hospital bed today to tell her supporters that she loved them.
Catilyn Abercrombie, who was shot by two classmates was described as a "fighter" by her mother, who asked the public for their prayers for her daughter, according to assistant superintendent Teresa Perry. A Facebook page, "Prayers for Catilyn Abercrombie," had nearly 2,000 fans today.
"She has written that she loves everyone on a piece of a paper," Perry said, though she didn't have further details about the girl's condition.
Abercrombie was the only student injured when the two boys opened fire with rifles around 1 p.m. Monday outside the North Carolina school.
Arrested and charged in the shooting were Ta'von McLaurin, 18, and a 15-year-old, who are suspected of shooting Abecrombie from about 50 feet away with a .22-caliber Daisy rifle, according to the Cumberland County Sheriff''s office. Both men are in the ninth grade at the school, according to Perry.
Parents of other students at the school speculated that the shooting could have been gang-related, but police have denied those reports.
The close call with the gunmen was not Abercrombie's first near-death experience. According to ABC affiliate WTVD, she survived a deadly car accident at the age of 8 when a drunk driver smashed head-on into the car she was riding in with a family friend. The friend died.
Abercrombie is reported to be in stable condition. Though the hospital won't release details about Abercrombie's condition, Paul Pepe, professor and chairman of emergency medicine at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, said her injuries could be very serious.
"Being shot in the neck is always very concering. Depending on the trajectory of the bullet, for example, it could hit numerous vital structures, from the spinal cord itself to major arteries and veins, or the airway. There is risk for anything from paralysis to exsanguination [bleed to death] to asphyxiation," Pepe said.
The reports of Abercrombie nodding her head to investigators questions and writing notes are good signs, Pepe added.
Witnesses near the shooting said they heard a popping sound and saw Abercrombie fall over. None of the witnesses said that they saw anyone with a gun, but the suspects were identified through surveillance video, police said.
Questions have been raised in the community about how two students were able to bring a rifle into the school undetected after it was stated by investigators that they believe the two attended class today and brought the rifle onto school property.
Cumberland County Sheriff Earl "Moose" Butler told ABC News affiliate WTVD-TV in Raleigh that he believes they hid the weapon in a pant leg or a shirt arm .