Cape Town - Four-year-old Brooklyn Koopman ran into the street to play; seconds later she lay in a pool of blood after being shot in the back.

Brooklyn is now recovering in hospital after she was struck by a stray bullet, apparently fired by young gangsters in Wesbank.

She was playing with her friend at her aunt’s home on Monday afternoon. At one point she decided to run into the street, just as a group of teenagers stormed in on bicycles and opened fire on a vehicle parked at the side of the road, said her mother.

“She was with my sister because I had to work,” she explained. “She ran out just as they started shooting and she was hit.”

Paramedics arriving on the scene found Brooklyn lying in a pool of blood. She was placed on advanced life support treatment before being rushed to Red Cross Children’s Hospital to be operated on, said ER24 spokesman Russel Meiring.

“I thought she was going to die,” said her mother. “I was so scared for her.”

But doctors managed to remove the bullet last night, and early Tuesday morning Brooklyn opened her eyes.

“She was shaking, she said ‘mommy’ and started crying,” said the mother.

She added that gang shootings were a regular occurrence in the neighbourhood and it was not uncommon to see gangsters as young as 13 carrying weapons.

“The older guys use them because they can’t go to jail.”

But right now, the mom is just happy her daughter is alive.

Police spokesman Colonel Tembinkosi Kinana said: “The circumstances surrounding the incident are still unknown, But police have opened a case of attempted murder for investigation.”

At the time of going to print, no arrests had been made. No one else was hit during the shooting.

Children are more and more frequently finding themselves in the firing line of escalating gang wars.

Last month a mother and her baby were shot in Delft.

The five-month-old boy was shot in the face in a hail of bullets. While his mother died, he was taken to hospital and put on life support.

It looked dire for the infant, but by the end of last month the hospital reported that he was finally out of intensive care.

Laticia Pienaar, communications officer at Tygerberg Hospital, said: “The baby is in a stable condition and will be later transferred to a paediatric ward.”

No arrest has been made in connection with the shooting.

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Cape Argus