Eight months later, Eric Smith is still afraid to go outside.
Last January, the 9-year-old was shot in the head by a robber while visiting his grandfather in South-Central Los Angeles. Although the shy fifth-grader is back at 24th Street Elementary School, he's not ready to rejoin the Little League.
"I like baseball," Eric said. "I used to play . . . but not anymore."
Eric, who is still recovering from his injuries, was among eight young crime victims honored Friday at the first Victims Recognition Day in South-Central Los Angeles.
During the event sponsored by the Los Angeles Police Department's 77th Street station and the city attorney's office, Police Chief Willie L. Williams recognized eight children who died or were seriously injured in crimes, presenting trophies to the youngsters or their survivors.
"You can hear about the crimes all the time," Williams said, "but it doesn't really hit you until you look at these little kids."
Some of the young honorees accepted the trophies proudly, others quietly. Eric cried, as did many of the relatives present at the hourlong ceremony at the Challengers Boys and Girls Club.
Cristal Anguiano smiled nervously when Williams handed her a certificate.
Cristal, a 13-year-old South Park Elementary School student, earned media attention in February after she was shot in the heart while saving her little brother's life during a gang shootout.
Both children were walking from their home to a nearby ice cream truck when Cristal heard gunfire. She picked up Rafael, 2, and was shot as she ran back to the house. She collapsed on the doorstep, but the toddler was unharmed.
Police say an increasing number of Los Angeles children are being hurt by violent crime.
A 1988 study of cases at Martin Luther King Jr./Drew Medical Center, which services much of the South-Central area, found that no child was hospitalized there for gunshot wounds from 1974 to 1980. But by 1987, at least 34 children had been treated for such injuries.
The recognition day ceremony was held to draw attention to the problems--and to the victims and their families, organizers said.
"These people are not just a headline in the newspaper or a lead story on the 6 o'clock news," said Norma Johnson, victim assistant coordinator with the city attorney's office. "These are flesh-and-blood people and they need our support."
Also recognized Friday were:
* Daniel Jones, 2, who remains paralyzed after he was shot, in the arms of his uncle, in front of his apartment.
* Michael Wiggins, 9, and Anthony Soucie, 8, who were playing outside with other children when gang members drove by and shot them. They are recovering.
* Sabrina Haley, who was 18 months old when she died in a drive-by shooting.
* Allen Hollowell, who was 13 when gang members shot and killed him on the street while he was on his way to buy groceries for his mother.
* Lashanique Leverett, who was 5 months old when she was killed after a motorist ran into a family friend who was holding her.
Suspects have been arrested in at least three of the cases.