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Young Brownsville Shooting Survivor Speaks Out; Community Calls For End To Gun Violence

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- As the family of a slain Brooklyn mother of 12 plans her funeral, another family is counting their blessings knowing their loved one could have been killed also.

Zurana Horton died instantly when bullets hit her in the face and chest, but thanks to her, 11-year-old Cheanne McKnight was only shot in the cheek and arm.

Horton was killed Friday afternoon as she shielded a group of children from a gunman who opened fire from a rooftop behind I.S. 298.

Cheanne's story is an incredible one. She managed to take a bullet to the face and not only survive, but is now telling her story. She's now among so many the in Brownsville community, who are desperate for the violence to end.

"I heard gunshots, and before I got to run, the bullet had hit me in my face," McKnight told CBS 2's Kathryn Brown.

The bandage covering the young girl's cheek shows just how close she came to losing her life.

"It was burning, it was hot," McKnight said. "I put my sweater over my face and I went in the store and I asked for a paper towel and I put it on my face and I went in an ambulance."

Cheanne was leaving school Friday when she got caught in the middle of what police now believe was a gang-related shootout, just steps from the school.  She was shot in the face, Another woman was shot in the arm and the 34-year-old Horton was shot in the head and killed.

Witnesses said Horton died trying to shield children from gunfire.

Zurana Horton
Zurana Horton (credit: CBS 2)

"And it ain't fair a woman had to die to save my child because that woman tried to save my child," said Cheanne's mother, Harriett. "I think something should have been done about this because the day before they was shooting, so these corners should have been covered with police."

Doctors say the little girl's physical scars will heal. But her emotional ones will likely take much longer.

"I'm not coming back, I'm transferring my school," Cheanne said. "I think it's not fair that kids gotta walk to school and be scared to know that something might happen to them like how it happened to me."

Most of Horton's 12 children, ranging in age from one to 18, will be raised by their grandparents.  Horton's mother, Denise Peace, said that she is now taking care of 7 of the children.

"They're taking it very hard, very hard. The baby's missing her awful a lot. The baby's missing her, she's used to cuddling with her mother," Peace said.  "I'm so glad for her saving the children that was there, I'm glad of that."

Meanwhile, Rev. Al Sharpton and other community leaders said it was time for people to rise up against gun violence after the deadly shooting.  Sharpton met with Horton's family on Monday, echoing calls for police and residents to stem the tide of violence.

LISTEN: 1010 WINS' Steve Sandberg reports


"I'm hoping somebody help find out what happened to my daughter," said Peace. "This is the third child I've lost from gunshots. I'm really going to miss my daughter."

LISTEN: 1010 WINS' John Montone reports


"Her daughter is a hero. A hero because she put herself in harm's way and made the ultimate sacrifice," said Sharpton.

WCBS 880's Peter Haskell With The Victim's Godmother and Rev. Sharpton


Monday afternoon outside the school where the shooting happened, mothers hustled their children away -- clearly, on edge as police made their presence known. Parents say it is still not enough.

"I think everybody want to have change, but don't know what to do," said parent Robin Chambers.

A memorial is growing where Horton lost her life as community activists rallied Monday, saying enough is enough. Many say they're going to start policing their own neighborhood to try to end the violence.

"It's going to take an army to stop the war that's happening in our community right now," said one man at the rally.

"Maybe this senseless act can wake this city up," Sharpton said. "It's us involved in behavior that is despicable and we need the community to stop."

About 100 residents marched Sunday night in Brownsville to honor Horton's bravery and to demand that the violence stop.

"She didn't even think. She stepped in front of those kids and she saved them and she didn't deserve to die like that," said Brownsville resident April Grant.

"She could be the one, just by her loss, who can bring all of us together and demand what we need. Respect for one another, and respect of life," said NYC Councilwoman Darlene Mealy.

Monday night, lawmakers and activists are planning to meet in Brownsville and hammer out a 12-point plan to make the community safer.  A $12,000 reward is offered for information that leads to the arrest of the gunman.

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