RICHMOND -- A 1-year-old boy hit in the neck by a bullet fragment Thursday has been released from Children's Hospital Oakland but is not returning to Richmond, relatives said Friday afternoon.
Elijah Ali, who had his first birthday on March 14, is "doing better now," according to his father, Rosshan Ali. "He's up walking around and eating (his) food. He's almost back to normal."
Elijah, who had surgery to remove the fragment on Thursday, proved to be resilient and even while hospitalized was "laughing, giggling and enjoying himself," said his grandfather, Rahamati Ali.
"We are just very grateful to God that nobody was (badly) hurt," he said.
The boy was one of two people injured after a flurry of gunfire at 1:15 p.m. Thursday at the St. Johns Apartments at 121 West Macdonald Ave. in the city's Iron Triangle district.
A bicyclist struck in the leg is also recovering. Police did not say whether they believed the man was the intended target of the attack.
The boy's father was at work when gunfire broke out. Elijah's grandmother was holding him in her arms when the bullets struck the apartment building, but she was not injured.
At least a dozen bullets flew through the air, with four rounds striking the apartment, about 30 yards from where the shooter fired, police said.
"We were just inside doing our own thing, and then out of the blue, bam, bam, bam," Elijah's grandfather said. "My concern now is getting my family out of here.
"Nobody should have to live with the fact this could happen," he said. "My grandson didn't do anything. He's 1 year old. My family is a good family. We stay to ourselves."
And while the family, who moved into the neighborhood from Sacramento about a year ago, wants to find a new home, Ali said he forgives the person who hurt his grandson.
"We forgive him. God will forgive him," he said. "Hopefully, he gets caught and is sent somewhere so that he can get some help and turn his life around."
Police say the shooting could be gang-related but have not released a description of the suspect or suspects.
Richmond police Chief Chris Magnus said finding the gunman is the department's highest priority.
"Obviously the family is traumatized. You have a 1-year-old child who is literally in the arms of his grandparents, they're feeding him and bullets come into the house," Magnus said. "I am really angry about this. I am sickened; I am appalled."
The shooting has also angered the community.
"It's a tremendous setback in our efforts" to change the image of Richmond as a city that's too dangerous in which to live, said the Rev. Andre Shumake of the Richmond Improvement Association. "But what it does is it tells us that we've come a long way but that there is still a long way to go. We can't sit back and think that the work is done."
Richmond police have offered a $25,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of a suspect. Anyone with information about the shooting should call police at 510-233-1214. Anonymous callers may leave tips at 510-232-8477.
Wire services contributed to this story. Rick Hurd covers crime. Contact him at 925-945-4789, and follow him at Twitter.com/3rderh. Reach Kristin J. Bender at email@example.com. Follow her at Twitter.com/kjbender.
A fund has been set up at Mechanics Bank to help the family of the 1-year-old child injured in Thursday's shooting. Checks can be sent to the Ali Family Relief Fund, c/o Mechanics Bank, 4100 Macdonald Ave., Richmond, CA 94805 or can be dropped off at any Mechanics Bank location.