Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Police: 6-year-old girl with spina bifida shot after bullet travels through intended victim

TAMPA — A felon with a gun shot into a car with children early Monday, police say.

James Brookins' bullet pierced his 23-year-old target, according to Tampa police. Then it grazed the arm of Zakayla Newsome, a 6-year-old with spina bifida.

Brookins' 5-month-old son was nearby, in the back seat.

"You don't have any respect for the law. You don't have any respect for life," Zakayla's grandmother, Zhelma Washington, 45, said later. "Your son could have been killed."

Zakayla, who has undergone about two dozen surgeries in her young life, was back in the hospital Monday.

She was alert, talking and in good spirits, her family said Monday afternoon. Her uncle, 23-year-old Albert Brown, was faring worse. He was shot in the chest, police say. Washington says the bullet hit his lung.

Still, police say he is expected to survive.

Meanwhile, Brookins, 43, who sometimes uses the alias Patrick Smith, was booked into jail on an attempted murder charge.

Police say the shooting happened about 2:30 a.m. during an argument between Brookins and Nakendra Newsome outside Brookins' apartment at 4422 N Hale Ave.

Newsome, who is Zakayla's mother, shares a son with Brookins — 5-month-old Jace, who was asleep in the back seat of the car.

Brown of Tampa happened to be along for the trip. At some point during the argument, he confronted Brookins. When he got back into the car, police say, Brookins approached Brown and shot him in the upper back.

The bullet traveled through him and then hit Zakayla in the arm.

Nakendra Newsome drove everyone to the hospital, and police soon found Brookins hiding under a vehicle just south of his apartment.

In addition to attempted murder, he faces one count of aggravated battery with great bodily harm. He was being held Monday without bail. He has previously been arrested in Florida on charges of cocaine possession, destroying evidence, DUI, aggravated assault and battery, state records show.

Shortly after the shooting, Zhelma Washington and her husband, Darcy Washington, 33, visited Zakayla and Brown in the hospital.

The little Riverview girl got sassy with Darcy Washington, whom she calls "Daddy," asking him what took him so long. Then she proudly announced to everyone, "That's my Daddy."

To Zhelma Washington, she said she wanted her bandages off.

The Washingtons already considered Zakayla an inspiration. She has so much hardware in her body and has spent months at a time in the hospital, yet she is a cheerful child and a favorite at her school, which offers specialized care for her with help from Medicaid.

Zakayla has spina bifida, a birth defect that involves the incomplete development of the spinal cord or its coverings. She has a tracheal tube to help her breathe and spends most of her time in a wheelchair, her grandmother said.

At home, she loves singing and watching Madea movies and playing with her cousins Michelle and Sunshine.

"I was just glad to see her smiling," Darcy Washington said about his visit Monday. "She wasn't crying or anything."

"She's a little trouper," Zhelma Washington said.

Times news researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3433.

Police: 6-year-old girl with spina bifida shot after bullet travels through intended victim 03/24/14 [Last modified: Monday, March 24, 2014 11:50pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Why it's too early to give up on the Bucs


    Don't panic. It's not too late for the Bucs.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston (3) and wide receiver Mike Evans (13) celebrate after the defense recovered a fumble during the second half of an NFL game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., on Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times 

  2. Backlog of immigration cases under Trump stymies immigrants in Florida


    It was supposed to be a routine green card renewal for a Thai woman who has called Central Florida home for years.

    Immigration lawyers such as Gerald P. Seipp of Clearwater worry that their clients' circumstances will change with long delays in their immigration court appeals, hurting their chances of staying in the country. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]
  3. New York town approves Legoland proposal


    GOSHEN, N.Y. — New York is one step closer to a Lego dreamland. Goshen, a small town about fifty miles northwest of the Big Apple, has approved the site plan for a $500 million Legoland amusement park.

    A small New York town, Goshen approved the site plan for a $500 million Legoland amusement park. Legoland Florida is in Winter Haven. [Times file  photo]
  4. First lady Melania Trump donates her inaugural gown to the Smithsonian


    WASHINGTON — Melania Trump knew her inaugural gown would be part of history and she had a clear vision for her look, asking the designer for something "modern, sleek, light, unique and unexpected."

    First lady Melania Trump donates her inaugural gown, designed by Herve Pierre, left, to the First Ladies' Collection at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History, during a ceremony in Washington, Friday, Oct. 20, 2017. [Pablo Martinez Monsivais | Associated Press]
  5. Deandre Gilmore guilty, but not of murder, jury decides


    TAMPA — The actions of Deandre Gilmore caused the death of his girlfriend's 19-month-old daughter in 2014, but a Hillsborough County jury decided Friday it was manslaughter, not murder.

    Deandre Gilmore looks towards the gallery Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017 in a Tampa courtroom. Gilmore is accused of killing Myla Presley the 19 month-old daughter of his then girlfriend Nayashia Williams while Gilmore was giving her a bath.