Family and friends have gathered to support Haylee Garrison at OSF St. Francis Medical Center on Saturday. Neighbors and sources close to the family say that she is in stable but critical condition, on life support after being shot in the throat.
It all began on Friday night as police swarmed outside the Garrison home in the 1800 block of Victoria street in Pekin. Pekin Police say they got the call of a shooting around 9 PM.
A neighbor, who was at the scene but did not wish to be identified, claimed that Haylee had been playing with her cousin.
There aren't many specifics, but neighbors believe the cousin found of a pistol and shot Haylee.
"It is a...very tragic situation for us, for the whole community," said Pekin Mayor John McCabe in an exclusive interview. "And we're hoping and praying it ends in the best results possible."
Neighbors said Haylee is a quiet girl but always eager to play. Many said that she is often seen playing with her dolls on the driveway, or with other kids in the neighborhood. People close to the family describe her as always happy and full of life.
Haylee is a student at Starke Grade school in Pekin where she had just celebrated her birthday on Friday.
Mayor McCabe said he hoped something like this would never happen in his city - but that it serves as what he called a tragic reminder on the need for proper safety.
"I think this is a message to the community that gun owners need to make sure that they are taking proper precautions, when they have children in their homes, that they are adequately securing their firearms wherever those may be so they're not accessible to young children," he said.
Haylee's parents are asking for prayers during this trying time.
The Pekin police department refused to provide any information on the incident other than a short police report, and despite repeated requests would not provide anyone to speak to us and answer questions. They told HOI News that they would be unavailable to provide more information until Monday.
HOI News has received an exclusive statement from the Garrison family, on behalf of Haylee's school principal who is acting as the family
He says in part: "Haylee is surrounded by family and friends. She is a sweet, creative girl who likes to make people laugh. We appreciate the kind words and ask for continued prayers."