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The 16-year-old Plant High student was injured while walking through Palma Ceia.

Police are searching for a man they say shot a teenage girl in the leg Friday night in the South Tampa neighborhood of Palma Ceia.

The girl, a 16-year-old Plant High School student, was walking home from the school's football game with a 15-year-old classmate at about 10 p.m., Tampa police said. A man pulled up in a vehicle next to them as they walked east on W San Miguel Street near S Bendelow Trail. He rolled down his window, said something and pointed a gun at them, police said.

As the two girls took off running, the man fired a shot that hit the older girl in the lower left leg. She remained hospitalized Saturday afternoon with non-life-threatening injuries. The Tampa Bay Times is not identifying the girl due to her age and the nature of the crime.

The motive for the attack is unknown, police Lt. Ron McMullen said at a news briefing Saturday afternoon. Police described the shooter as a white man between 20 and 30 years old. He wore a black ski mask on his head, but it didn't cover his face, which was clean-shaven and chubby. He was driving a black four-door vehicle with dark tinted windows, police said.

Though the incident has not been connected to the school, the principal of Plant High put out a phone message to parents Saturday informing them of the crime and that the school district is working with Tampa police to solve the case, school district spokesman Steve Hegarty said.

"They ought to be able to just walk home on their own," Hegarty said. "We're all very concerned about it."

On Saturday, children played in front yards of the brick-paved neighborhood as detectives continued interviewing witnesses. Neighbors gawked at media gathered at the crime scene.

This type of incident is rare for the neighborhood, McMullen said.

"It's an isolated case, clearly, and it's not a usual thing," he said. "That's why it's garnering all this attention for sure."

Shelley Rossetter can be reached at or (813) 226-3401.