Nobody ever wounded Marquis Smith when he served his country in Iraq. Someone did successfully aim at him on Mischief Night—and the Army vet may never see out of his left eye again.
The attack occurred around 9:30 p.m. Tuesday. It was the night before Halloween, a traditional time for so-called “mischief.”
It’s unclear whether the incident had to do with Mischief Night.
Smith (pictured), who’s 27, was walking on Winthrop Avenue near Whalley. He had left a friend’s house; he was headed to his grandmother’s on Dixwell Avenue.
He was talking on the phone. He heard a sound coming from his right, then pain in his left eye.
“It felt like my eye was on fire,” he recalled Wednesday from a bed in Yale-New Haven Hospital.
He made his way to a Chinese restaurant on Whalley Avenue, where he called the police. They arrived and told him they’d been chasing a group of teens causing trouble in the area.
Smith said he doesn’t know how many kids had been gathered when one shot what turned out to be a BB gun toward him. “I never actually saw them. They ran down the street before I had a chance.”
The BB gun pellet ricocheted off his eyeball, he said. “I’m thanking God it didn’t penetrate.”
But it did cause severe damage. Doctors told him they can’t do surgery until “my cornea starts to clear up.”
Smith served three and a half years with the Army, one of those years in Iraq, the rest in Germany, he said.
The family learned that Smith could lose sight in the eye altogether, or else suffer serious lasting damage, according to his mother, Tanya Smith.
She urged parents to take heed of what happened to her son.
“He went to to Iraq to fight and serve his country—and may not lead a normal life because some parent allowed a child to run wild on Mischief Night,” she said Wednesday. “Parents need to take more responsibility for their kids’ actions.”
Shortly before Smith got hit, police received another complaint about teens with a BB gun in the same area, according to Lt. Joe Witkowski. He said officers believe a member of the same group probably shot at Smith. He said he doesn’t know if the group’s antics were related to Mischief Night. Some groups of kids did cause trouble around town Tuesday night, he said. But overall, in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, it was relatively quiet, Witkowski said. Especially for the night before Halloween.