Brockton police search for suspect in shooting of 8-year-old girl

BROCKTON—Police are searching for a man in connection with the shooting of an 8-year-old girl on North Montello Street Friday night.

Police said Eric Leach, 28, shot the girl in her leg around 8:28 Friday night but they did not say why.

Brockton police spokesman Paul Bonanca said the girl’s injuries are not life-threatening, and she was in stable condition at a nearby hospital.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

“We have detectives working around the clock” trying to find Leach, Bonanca said. “Police are pursuing leads.”

Police documents described Leach as a heavyset white man with facial hair who is 5 feet 11 inches tall and weighs 200 pounds. He is a Brockton resident and has brown hair and blue eyes, according to police.

Police would not say whether the girl was shot at her home, or whether Leach knew or was related to her. Police also declined to say if they believed Leach was still in the Brockton area.

Leach is being sought for assault and battery with a dangerous weapon on a child under 14, unlawful carrying of a firearm, unlawful possession of ammunition, and unlawful discharge of a firearm. He is considered armed and dangerous.

Another man, 27-year-old Jose Manuel Santiago of Brockton, was arrested by police at the scene for witness intimidation and obstruction of justice. Bonanca said Santiago had “interfered” with police activities but would not elaborate on his involvement.

According to police logs, six officers reached the scene within minutes of a 911 call from someone who reported hearing a “pop” and said a child with “a hole in her leg” was bleeding.

Faisal Baig, who works at the A.L. Prime gas station and convenience store across the street, said the girl and her family were frequent customers at the store.

“It must have been a freak accident, it’s not like she did something,” said Baig, who saw the girl being carried on a stretcher into an ambulance as a crowd of onlookers gathered. “It’s sad. They’re all good people, a good family.”

Baig said that crime in Brockton had decreased noticeably over the past several years, something he attributes to increased police vigilance.

“Before, every other day we would hear about something,” he said. “It’s really calmed down compared to a couple years ago.”

Brockton city councilor Paul Studenski condemned the shooting of a child.

“You wonder how it happened,” he said. “I’m hoping it was an accident, but we won’t know until they catch the guy.”

Studenski acknowledged that “Brockton is a city and there is violence,” but he credited community policing efforts for bringing down the crime rate since the 1990s, when “things were a lot tougher.”

Anyone with information about the shooting should contact Brockton Police at 508-941-0200.