Youngest Victim of Riots Is Baby Born With Bullet Wound : Violence: She is delivered after being shot in the elbow while in the womb. Doctors say she is healthy.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

All of 6 pounds and 12 ounces, she was whisked out of the womb into the violence-torn world with a 9-millimeter bullet embedded in her elbow.

Amid last week's wreckage and violence that left more than 2,300 people injured, she is the youngest victim.

Her mother, Elvira Evers of Compton, was carrying groceries from her car into her apartment on Long Beach Boulevard as rioting flared during the late afternoon of April 30.

A stray bullet from a handgun hit Evers in the abdomen, passed through the wall of her uterus and lodged in the fetus, who was due to be born in about two weeks.

Doctors at St. Francis Medical Center in Lynwood said the infant, Jessica Glennis Evers-Jones, was delivered healthy except for the bullet wound, now marked by two stitches.

Bedecked in a pink dress and white hair ribbons, baby Jessica snoozed through a news conference Thursday, undisturbed by television lights, while her mother and doctors told of her incongruous injury and birth.

Evers, who works as a cashier in the cafeteria at McDonnell Douglas, said she felt little pain after she was hit. She did not notice her injury until a neighbor pointed out the blood oozing onto her billowing white dress.

"I didn't know I'd been hit," said Evers, a native of Panama. "I just felt a little tingling."

Her neighbor, who is a nurse, drove Evers to St. Francis, about 15 minutes away. Shunning a wheelchair, Evers walked into the emergency room, creating a stir among even the veteran nurses and doctors who know that a bullet can cause a massive, lethal hemorrhage in a pregnant woman.

Sonograms and X-rays were taken, showing the bullet was lodged in the baby, but "we weren't sure exactly where," said obstetrician Silas Thomas. It soon became clear that the fetus was bleeding from the wound into the amniotic fluid--an ominous sign.

At 5:40 p.m., the baby was delivered by Cesarean section.

Andy Moosa, a neonatologist, said he was relieved to see that the bullet had not hit the bone or damaged any of the critical tendons in the area of the elbow joint.

"Fortunately, it was a flesh wound for the baby," he said.

But doctors will always remember the incongruous sight--the innocence of birth defaced by a bullet.

The bullet, which protruded from the right elbow, was removed by surgeons who sutured the gash. For five days, the baby was placed on intravenous antibiotics to prevent infection. Meanwhile, Evers recovered from a punctured uterus and the Cesarean section.

She said her brother and aunt helped care for her three older children--ages 5, 10 and 14--while she was hospitalized.

Despite the horror of their injuries, mother and child were lucky in several ways, doctors said.

If Evers had not been pregnant, doctors said, the bullet would probably have struck her abdominal aorta, posing the risk of a lethal hemorrhage. And if the baby had not been curled up in the fetal position, with her arms crossed and protecting her chest, the bullet might have penetrated the baby's torso, causing far greater damage.

As it happens, they were also lucky because Thomas, Evers' obstetrician, happened to be at the hospital Thursday afternoon when Evers arrived.

During the rioting, St. Francis' emergency room treated about 475 people, including 40 who were hospitalized with serious injuries, officials said. They said their maternity ward was full.

Evers said she wishes that she could move away from her neighborhood, where "the gangbangers are real bad," and that this is the last violence her baby daughter would suffer.

As for her immediate plans, she said: "The only thing I want to do now is go to church."

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