PORTLAND, Maine (WBZ NewsRadio) — Police said a young girl in Waterville, Maine was struck in the right side of her chest by a stray bullet, while she was sitting in her bedroom having a snack with her sister on Friday afternoon.
7-year-old Emaleeah "Emah" Frost was flown by a medical helicopter to Maine Medical Center in Portland at around 3:30 p.m. Friday.
The bullet is still lodged in the girl's chest, but her mother, Davina Petchonka, said her daughter is "very lucky" it wasn't worse.
"They said the bullet was very close to hitting her spine," Petchonka told the Morning Sentinel. "It lodged just beside her spinal cord, very close to making her a paraplegic."
Frost is now recovering in the pediatric intensive care unit, and is listed in stable condition.
Investigators say the bullet went through the wall of the girl's bedroom at the front of the house, where she was sitting with her 6-year-old sister Amber.
Petchonka said she was in the kitchen with the girls' father and some friends, when they heard a noise.
"It was like, what was that?" she said. "I realized what happened. She was just looking at me. I noticed she had been shot and I just could not believe it. I grabbed a towel and applied pressure and someone called 911."
The building in which Frost was shot is directly across the street from where a woman was shot and killed in December, allegedly by her husband.
At a news conference on Saturday afternoon, Waterville Deputy police chief Bill Bonney said Frost is in stable condition and is expected to make a full recovery.
"It was certainly a life-threatening wound and fortunately, she got immediate treatment," Bonney said. "The motive is under investigation."
Petchonka said her daughter is able to move her arms and legs, she is sleeping a lot, and talking a little. "She's going to be fitted for a chest brace... they will put that on her and sit her up," Petchonka said. "She's pulling through this and she's expected to have a full recovery."
Emah's family has set up a GoFundMe account to raise money to help with transportation and funds for future appointments. By Saturday evening, they had raised nearly $7,700 of a $10,000 goal from more than 240 donors.
In a Saturday update almost 24 hours after the shooting, Petchonka says Emah is doing "ok this morning," and that doctors "have removed the neck brace and breathing tubes from her nose. They cannot remove the bullet at this time it is too close her her spine. She's a wicked tough girl."
You can click here to donate to Emah's GoFundMe.
Maine police are still looking for suspects in the "drive-by shooting," and urge anyone with information to contact Detective Daryl Gordon at the Waterville Police Department.