Vaimoana Tapaleao is the New Zealand Herald's Pacific Affairs and People reporter.

Student, 16, shot at from car: 'I thought I'd just been hit by a slingshot'

Police are hunting for a person who shot a 16-year-old student from a moving car as she was walking through Auckland.

Sharanita Sharma was on her way home from the mall on a Saturday afternoon when she heard a loud bang as a car passed her on Morningside Drive, Mt Albert.

At the same time, a sharp pain surged through one of her arms. Blood was trickling down towards her fingers and a funny-shaped object was poking through her skin.

"I thought I'd just been hit by a slingshot," she said. "But then I looked at my arm and I could feel something popping out. Not through my skin yet, but it was bulging.

"My arm was bleeding."

A doctor at the local accident and emergency medical centre would later reveal the teenager had just been shot with an air rifle and that a pellet was lodged in her left arm.

The incident happened at 3.30pm on Waitangi Day.

She remembered a vehicle had been passing them at the time they heard the popping sound, but she did not look up at it as she was more concerned about the pain.

At the time, Sharanita did not realise how serious the wound was and even suggested to her friend: "Let's just go home."

Her mate, however, insisted they head to the nearby medical centre, where she was seen by a nurse.

"The doctor came and said: 'You need to go to the hospital because you've just been shot with an air rifle. Police were there and investigators. Then I got it removed."

Sharanita received stitches where the pellet entered her arm and where it was removed. She was required to stay in hospital overnight and was discharged the following evening.

The teen, a Year 13 student at Marist College, said she was upset and admitted being jumpy whenever there was a loud noise now.

"Every time I walk now, I have to keep looking over my shoulder ... If I hear a car ... I'm like: 'What if someone shoots me again?

"The saddest part for me was, if my arm was 4cm back or if it wasn't in the place where it was, the pellet would've gone straight through my chest into my lungs or heart.

"And that's what freaks me out the most - not that I got shot, it's what if it went somewhere else and what if it was more significant? How can someone do that and not really care?"

Police are calling for anyone who may have witnessed the incident or may have information about it to come forward.

Sharanita, who hopes to be a physiotherapist, has a keepsake from the incident - the pellet which was lodged in her arm. "I'm definitely keeping that as a memento."

• Can you help the police? Contact the Avondale station (09) 302 6400 or CrimeStoppers, anonymously 0800 555 111

- NZ Herald

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