MANCHESTER — Mariela Maria, 42, had just stepped outside her Ahern Street home and was walking toward her car to go to work on Wednesday afternoon when she heard yelling and saw a teenager running toward her.
Then she heard a gunshot.
“I felt a burning,’’ Maria said as she stood outside her 126 Ahern St. home Wednesday, fewer than 24 hours after the 3:15 p.m. shooting.
It wasn’t until she stepped back inside her home that she saw the blood. She had taken the bullet intended for the fleeing teen.
Maria said the bullet passed through the front of her stomach, then grazed her arm. After being transported to Elliot at River's Edge, an urgent care facility, she was immediately taken to the Elliot Hospital, where she was treated for non-life-threatening injuries and released Tuesday night.
As of Wednesday, Manchester police were still searching for the shooter, who they described as a tall, dark-skinned black man. Police confirm Maria was not the intended target.
After Maria was shot, police found a 17-year-old male with a gunshot wound to his face. Through their investigation, detectives determined the injury happened during the Ahern Street incident.
Police later discovered the injured teen was listed as a missing person out of New York. He was taken into custody until a relative could pick him up.
After returning from a doctor’s visit on Wednesday, Maria smiled as she stood outside her home in the Elmwood Gardens affordable housing project, where the single mother is raising three teenagers.
She said her neighborhood is filled with children who are often at the playground and basketball court around the corner.
“I’m just glad it was me and not one of these younger kids who are always running around,’’ she said.”
Maria said shortly before she was shot, she heard yelling and what sounded like a verbal altercation from the direction of the basketball court. The fleeing teen appeared to come from that direction, she said.
As for the shooter, Maria said, “I forgive him. I knew it wasn’t for me, but it’s sad that they think they can solve problems by killing someone.’’
In a touch of irony, Maria told the Union Leader she moved her family to Manchester from New York City 17 years ago to get away from the violence.
“I guess I was at the wrong place, wrong time,’’ she said laughing. “I’m lucky.’’