Police: Boy checking gun accidentally shoots friend on basketball court



ORLANDO, Fla. - A 16-year-old boy was accidentally shot while playing basketball, and his family told WFTV he was paralyzed as a result.

Orlando authorities said Mario Whitehead was playing basketball at Willie Mays Park in Richmond Heights when a shot was fired.

"They heard a shot, and he hit the ground. They had to tell me over and over again, 'Your brother just got shot.' I had to run out there as fast as I could,” said Mario's brother, Marvin Giles,

"He comes out here every day and plays basketball. Good kid, goes to school," said Whitehead's aunt Rosalyn Smith.

Mario remains in the intensive care unit at Orlando Regional Medical Center.

Police said another teen playing basketball, Takim Neal, went to check on a gun he had in his jacket when it accidentally fired, striking Whitehead in the shoulder.

Neal, 17, was taken into custody for questioning and was later arrested, according to the report.

Family members said the bullet somehow became lodged in Whitehead's spine, paralyzing him.

"Doctor came in and gave us the news and said, 'As of right now, there's not much they can do,'" said Giles. "It's devastating. He shouldn't have been at the park with a gun. That's a playground. There's nothing but kids, you know?"

Giles said he and his brother were friends with Neal.

 "It was stupid. It was stupid, and my little brother had to pay for it," Giles said.

Family members said doctors decided it was safest to leave the bullet where it is, lodged next to Mario’s spine.

Surprisingly, Mario is in good spirits despite the fact he may never walk again, family members said.

“It’s devastating,” said Giles. “He shouldn't have been at the park with a gun. That's a playground. There’s nothing but kids, you know?”

Neal was charged and detained after being identified by eyewitnesses as the shooter.

He is charged with carrying a concealed firearm, improper exhibition of a dangerous firearm, discharging firearm in public, possession of a firearm by a minor and culpable negligence, causing injury.

With a bleak prognosis, Mario’s family hopes for a miracle.

“He’s going to walk again,” said Rosalyn.

Police have not yet recovered the weapon.