Mill Creek two-year-old narrowly avoids being shot on nature trail

MILL CREEK, Wash. — A father said he and his little boy are lucky to be alive after they were shot at in the middle of a popular nature trail.

“Right here, that is a bullet hole,” said Tristan Gillis, as he pointed to a bullet hole in his two-year-old’s stroller.

Questions of “what if” cannot escape Gillis’s mind.

“(The gunshot) just missed my femoral artery. It literally went in between my femoral artery and my femur,” he told KIRO 7.

The incident happened on Saturday, March 5, near 132 Street SE and 35th Avenue SE.

Gillis, his son, and their dog were strolling along a popular nature path when shots rang out.

“I literally felt it brush my hair from it passing by, which set me into a panic,” he remembered.

Seconds later, Gillis took a direct hit in the thigh with another shot.

The gunshot first passed through his son’s stroller, missing the two-year-old boy by just inches.

“Get a child involved and those are federal charges,” Gillis said. “That’s prison time and if you go to prison for messing with a child, you are not going to last long.”

Mill Creek police told KIRO 7 there have been similar shooting incidents in the past.

As an investigation revs up to see if this shooting was deliberate, Gillis thinks his dog may have been the actual target.

“Everybody that’s complained about (prior shootings) have been the owners of animals,” he noted.

Officers searched the area and located projectiles on the ground that “appeared consistent with air gun pellet projectiles and were not believed to be consistent with a projectile fired from a firearm.”

Mill Creek police said they are now beefing up patrols in the area near the nature path.

In the meantime, Gillis and his girlfriend have a message for the shooter.

“Whoever did it is a punk,” said Gillis’s girlfriend Destiny Miller.

“What happens if I was packing that day and I had seen you?” asked Gillis. “I’m in my full right to shoot you. And I’m a lot better shot.”

Gillis told KIRO 7 he will soon have surgery to remove the bullet from his thigh.

Mill Creek police said they will then examine the bullet and catalog it as evidence.

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call Detective Sergeant Bart Foutch at 425-921-5755.