Robin Lobdell

Robin Lobdell cries at a prayer vigil for her son, 19-year-old William Williams, who was shot and killed Nov. 1 in the 1200 block of North College Street. Williams' homicide is one of two fatal shootings in 2010 in St. Joseph County that have not been solved. (Tribune File Photo/SANTIAGO FLORES)

SOUTH BEND — Minutes before she was struck by gunfire Nov. 23, Jasmine Harris had been taking down her daughter’s braids in their Falcon Street apartment, deciding what movie they were going to watch that night.

The first shot entered the right side of her chest, lodging itself in the 19-year-old’s spine.

The second, fired as Harris moved to shield her daughter, carved a path through her shoulder, exiting as fast as it entered.

Harris is now paralyzed, and doctors have told her she may never walk again.

The shooter, meanwhile, has not been found.

Though St. Joseph County experienced a steep drop in homicides in 2010, some near-fatal crimes, such as the Harris shooting, remain unsolved.

Nine people were victims of homicide in 2010 in St. Joseph County, down from 19 in 2009 and 17 in 2008.

Seven homicides occurred in South Bend, one in Mishawaka and one in the county. Seven were shootings, two were beatings.

A shooting in which a woman fatally wounded her ex-boyfriend after he broke into her home on East Eckman Street was ruled justifiable.

Tim Corbett, commander of the St. Joseph County Metro Homicide Unit, declined to take a positive look at this year’s low homicide rate.

“Positive would be none,” he said. “It’s still nine dead people, nine families suffering.”

Connection?

Two of the nine homicides are unsolved, including the shooting death of 17-year-old Bernard Vaughn on July 21.

The teen was found dead in a mobile home on the city’s far west side. The coroner ruled he died of multiple gunshot wounds to the head.

Less than three weeks earlier, Vaughn had testified as an eyewitness in a murder trial against Luis Briones in St. Joseph Superior Court. Briones was convicted and sentenced to 73 years in prison.

Police said they did not believe Vaughn’s slaying was connected to his testimony, but the teen’s father, Bernard Vaughn Sr., disagrees.

"I really, truly, believe it had something to do with Briones," Vaughn said. "At first, I didn't. I probably was in denial."

Vaughn recalled how his son was afraid to come forward with what he knew.

"I told him, 'Son, there is no such thing as a snitch.’ ”