Falling bullet kills boy at church

SYDNEY MORNING HERALD
A four-year-old boy has been killed by a falling bullet that was fired into the air during New Year's Eve celebrations in the US. Marquel Peters was playing a video game inside a church in the state of Georgia when the bullet pierced the roof and hit him in the head, local media reported.

He collapsed on the floor alongside his parents, bleeding, and was taken to hospital where he died. "I saw his Nintendo game fall on the floor, and I heard a sound and I heard him scream a little bit and I looked around and all I saw was blood coming from his head," Marquel's mother Nathalee Peters told a local TV station."

"He was my only child ... I miss him, I loved him, he was so sweet," she told Sky News.

Ballistics experts told local media the bullet had most likely come from an AK-47 assault rifle, and may have been fired into the air up to five kilometres from the church.

Police believed the shooter may be unaware someone had been hurt by their bullet.

Marquel's family planned to return to the church - where they were regulars - for his funeral, reported the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

"I'm a faith believer, but it's just hard," his uncle Garry Peters said. "Why at church?"

According to the Journal-Constitution, the 350 people gathered inside heard a "loud pop" when the bullet pierced the roof .

"No one knew what it was," Mr Peters said.

After Marquel was taken to hospital, the congregation said a brief prayer for him before continuing with a planned concert, not realising his injuries were life-threatening, senior pastor Lloyd Phipps told the paper.

Soon after Marquel died, a six-year-old Italian boy was also shot by a stray bullet in Miami.

Andrea Fregonese was celebrating New Year's Eve with his family - only hours after authorities had urged people not to fire their guns in the air in celebration - when he was shot in the chest, apparently by a falling bullet.

His family were sitting at an outside restaurant at the time.

The mayor of Miami Tomas Regalado arranged for toys to be brought to Andrea at hospital, where he was in a serious but stable condition, to show "that we care and that we're sorry".

with AP

(Moral of the story, God may smite thee if thou shalt play Nintendo in church)