LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – When Hazel Hestes pulled out of her North Little Rock driveway Thursday morning, she thought it was just like any other day.
The 14-year-old had hopped into a car with two other friends just after 5:30, headed to an early-morning swim team practice at a Little Rock Aquatics center. An email sent to parents from Mount St. Mary Academy confirmed the girls are students there and were going to a practice facility off-campus.
“A group of girls normally take me on Tuesdays and Thursdays,” Hazel explained.
But when the trio pulled out of Hestes’ neighborhood, they quickly realized they were being followed by a black Range Rover, who had been heading the opposite direction – but swung around behind them. Hazel said in the dark, it looked like the driver was wearing a ski mask of some kind, and the flashers of his car were on.
After pulling into a nearby parking lot in hopes the driver would pass them, Hazel and her friends were shocked to see the car pull up beside them and roll down the window. That’s when she says things became terrifying.
“He pulls his gun out of the window and fires shots,” Hazel remembered. “At first, I didn’t think it was real.”
The car full of teenagers then started a frantic race to safety, calling 911 and telling the dispatcher they were being shot at. Hazel says at one point, the shooter even tried to drive them off the road and pull up beside them, possibly to get a better shot.
Dispatchers directed the girls to drive to the Arkansas State Capitol, where Capitol Police were patrolling the grounds. Police quickly surrounded the Range Rover and found 35-year-old David Harris of North Little Rock with a rifle on his lap. He was detained and then taken into custody by Little Rock Police.
Hazel’s mom, Ana, says as horrifying as the situation was, she was proud of the girl’s levelheaded thinking.
“All the police, everyone was so proud of them for the way they handled the situation,” Ana said. “We’re all really impressed with them and really glad they’re ok.”
Hazel adds it took the three working as a team to stay focused and avoid getting hurt.
None of the girls were injured, and none of the bullets hit the car they were driving.
Harris is currently at the Pulaski County Jail and is being charged with unlawful firing of a weapon from a vehicle and aggravated assault.