Family of 11-year-old Shooting Victim Speaks Out

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By Ashley Thompson

Xavier Russell is the 11-year-old child who authorities say was the victim of gun violence at the hands of another young person. His family tells us they are just thankful he is alive.

Xavier Russell was riding dirt bikes in the Flatwoods Community with his brother Marquis and two other cousins when the unimaginable happened. Marquis tells us it was then that a 13-year-old approached them and drew a weapon.

"He showed us the gun," he says. "He said he stole it and then he had put a bullet in there. He was playing with my brother with the gun. He put it to his stomach and he shot him."

Xavier's cousin Antonio tells us after Xavier was shot, the 13-year-old shooter took off- leaving the rest of them to think fast about what to do next.

"He had shot him," says Antonio. "Then my cousin, he had fell. We had picked him up...took him in the house."

After carrying Xavier into their house, the cousins began making phone calls to family then to the police. Antonio says the shooter was no stranger and says he's not sure why Xavier was targeted.

"We used to play basketball," Antonio says of the shooter. "We know his daddy."

Xavier's aunt Vernetta Cain tells us life has been stressful on the whole family since the shooting.

"I don't know what led up to it," she says. "Was it a fight or whatever? But I don't think so. It's been hard, yeah. A lot of prayer because we're a praying family. A lot of hoping and believing and praying and wishing."

She says she wants what happened to her nephew to be a lesson for all young children.

"Guns are not to be played with. I am very thankful that my nephew is doing well and that he's living."

Xavier was air-lifted to UAB hospital after he was shot. His family tells us he has undergone three surgeries, has had several organs removed and is now is stable condition.

Authorities tell us the gun used in the shooting has not yet been found.

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