15-year-old girl shot in head remains in critical condition

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ORLANDO, Fla. —

A 15-year-old Orlando girl is fighting to survive after she was shot in the head while in the back seat of her family's minivan, according to the Orange County Sheriff's Office.

Danielle Sampson was with her family on Sunday night to shop for her mother's birthday present.

But around 6:30 p.m., deputies said, gunfire erupted between people in two other vehicles in Pine Hills, and a bullet hit the van she was riding in.

Sampson's father tried to escape the gunfire, but as the family approached the intersection of North Lane and Powers Drive, they heard their back windshield shatter.

When they turned around, Sampson's parents found her slumped over in the back seat of their van.

The teen was taken to Arnold Palmer's Children Hospital with a bullet lodged in her brain. She remains in critical condition.
 
WFTV's Nancy Alvarez spoke with Sampson's family.

The teenager's family is asking for prayers and for the community's help to catch the people who opened fire.

Sampson is a basketball player at Apopka High School, where she is scheduled to start her sophomore year in a couple of weeks.

A search is under way for the people involved in the shootout.

"This is an incident that should outrage the community, and we are asking for everyone's help to find out whoever did this to this poor family," said Jane Watrel of the Orange County Sheriff's Office.

WFTV spoke to Sampson's sister.

"I am in a state of shock, and when I first heard it, I broke down, but I am just trying to stay strong for my parents," said the teen's sister, who did not want to be identified.

"These young guys who don't have much to look forward [to], they don't have goals, they don't have mentors," added Sampson's sister. "When they take out their anger like this, innocent bystanders like my sister end up dead or end up really hurt."

Detectives said they are looking for a tan sedan and charcoal-colored SUV that could be a Chevy Equinox or something similar.

Initial information indicated one of the vehicles driven by a shooter was a Chevy Equinox, however, detectives believe it could have been an SUV that is similar to the Equinox in appearance.

"They were doing nothing more than leaving church and celebrating a mother's birthday, and now a 15-year-old daughter is in the hospital, and she has been shot," Watrel said.

The family has posted a $1,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in the case. Anyone with information is asked to contact CRIMELINE at 407-423-TIPS.

In the meantime, friends have set up a Facebook group in Sampson's memory.