A 15-year-old girl has uttered her first word since being shot in the head in the Bronx earlier last week. It was an appropriate one. "Mom."
Gemma Vasquez has sat vigilantly by her daughter's bedside since Vada was felled by stray gunfire while she was walking home from school. The bullet exploded in her brain and she had to undergo emergency brain surgery. She's been more or less comatose for the last eight days. But, yesterday, Vada finally was able to speak.
Her mother told NBCNewYork her first words were "Mom. Thank you, please, I love you."
"It was beautiful just to see her open her eyes. And then when they took her off the respirator it was very good to see her smile and try to talk and eat for herself," her mother said.
Vada's condition was upgraded to stable condition on Tuesday, and a surgeon says she has a full life ahead of her.
"She will make [a] full functional recovery," Lincoln Hospital Chief of Neurosurgery Narayan Sundaresan said. The surgeon says Vada has some speech limitation at the moment, "but is young and will get better."
"What the bullet did was to take a tangential course. It hit her in this part of the left side, went through the brain and came out and left a lot of bone fragments in."
Vada's sister, Angela, says Vada is a bit frustrated with her condition. "She is asking why her words are mixed up?"
Meanwhile, the five suspects arrested in connection with the shooting that brought Vada to the pavement are in protective custody at Rikers Island. Four of them were moved to protective custody earlier this week after complaining they were afraid for their lives. The suspects had reportedly intended to hit 19-year-old Tyrone Creighton, apparently over some beef at Rikers between one of Creighton's brothers and an inmate member of their gang.
Creighton was shot twice but has been released from the hospital.
The shooting of Vasquez, the latest innocent victim of senseless gunfire, has renewed community uproar over violence on the streets. In response, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Rep. Carolyn McCarthy introduced a new gun bill aimed at reducing the trafficking of illegal guns into the state. Under the law, gun traffickers could face a maximum of 20 years behind bars if convicted.
"Too often, Congress has tied the hands of law enforcement," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a statement. "This legislation gives them the tools they need to crack down on illegal guns."