OAKLAND -- A 6-year-old girl is recovering today after she was wounded Tuesday morning by ¿a bullet that tore through her bedroom wall as she slept in her family's East Oakland home, police said.

Authorities believe the shots were intended for someone else inside the house who has links to a street gang. That person was inside the house in the 1600 block of Seminary Avenue during the 2:15 a.m. attack that left walls riddled with bullet holes.

The girl, Leslie Ramirez, was the only person wounded. She is a first-grader at Greenleaf Elementary School, a high-performing public school in East Oakland that opened in 2007, replacing the struggling Whittier school.

Leslie was taken to a hospital where she underwent surgery to remove a bullet that went through her arm and lodged in her chest, authorities said. She was in stable condition Tuesday.

She told an older brother by telephone Tuesday that her arm hurt.

She and her family were sleeping when shots tore through the walls of their bungalow in the 1600 block of Seminary Avenue near East 16th Street. Her 12-year-old brother, Jorge Ramirez, said they suddenly heard gunfire and dropped to the ground, their father pulling the girl to the floor. They realized afterward that Leslie had been hit and her sister called 911.

Jorge said that after the ambulance came to take his sister to the hospital, "we were just crying."


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Monica Thomas, Greenleaf's principal, said Leslie's classmates made cards for her Tuesday, and counselors were on hand to help students who were grappling with the news. Her staff has worked hard to make the children feel safe while they're at school, she said, and it's difficult to think about the dangers awaiting them in their neighborhood, which is known for gang violence.

Some parents told her they heard the shots. More than 20 shots, from at least two guns, were fired outside the home, according to police.

"If you don't feel safe with your kid in their bed at home, where do you feel safe?" Thomas said.

Police said another shooting in the same area a few weeks ago may be related. No one was reported wounded in that shooting.

Oakland police Chief Anthony Batts visited Leslie and her family at the hospital, bringing her a teddy bear and police T-shirt.

Officer Jeff Thomason, a department spokesman, said the chief apologized to the family for what happened and told them no child should have to go through what Leslie did.

In a letter to the families of Greenleaf students, Thomas asked those with any information -- "no matter how minor it may seem" -- to contact the school or the school district Police Department's anonymous tip line at 510-532-4867.

"This tragic event underscores how much work we have to do in order to improve respect for human life and protect the children of this city," the letter said.

Police and Crime Stoppers of Oakland are offering up to $5,000 in reward money for information leading to the gunman's arrest. Anyone with information may call police at 510-238-3426 or Crime Stoppers at 510-777-8572 or 510-777-3211.

Tuesday's shooting was not the first time a young child in Oakland was wounded by an errant bullet.

  • In November 2009, a 5-year-old girl was shot in the back by a bullet that went through a wall of her home in the 800 block of Mead Avenue in West Oakland. The wound was not life-threatening. Police believed the bullet was fired during a shootout between rival drug gangs. No one else was wounded. A suspect was later arrested and charged with the shooting.

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  • In January 2008, 10-year-old Christopher Rodriguez was taking a piano lesson on Piedmont Avenue in North Oakland when he was struck with a stray bullet fired during a nearby robbery. He was paralyzed. In 2009, Jared Adams, then 26, was convicted of multiple felony counts related to the shooting and other crimes, including attempted murder.

    Staff writer Angela Woodall contributed to this story.