Two Waterbury men charged after 7-year-old girl shot in eye by paintball gun

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WATERBURY-- Two Waterbury men are facing charges for their connection to a paintball shooting that hospitalized a 7-year-old girl last week.

Damaine Brockett, 28, and Benjamin Estrella, 26, both of Waterbury, were arraigned Wednesday morning in Superior Court in Waterbury. Both men were charged with several crimes, including assault, reckless endangerment, conspiracy and risk of injury to a minor.

On Tuesday, October 20, police say a 7-year-old girl was seriously injured after a stray paintball hit her in the eye. A Waterbury police officer who arrived to the scene in the Angel Drive area saw blood and neon green paint coming from the girl's left eye.

Benjamin Estrella Demaine Brockett

Benjamin Estrella (l) and Demaine Brockett (r)

Some neighbors told FOX 61 that a paintball battle almost turned into a brawl after several cars were hit, along with the young girl.

Police say they stopped the suspects on Oakville Avenue and Eastern Avenue before 7 p.m. that night and found two paintball guns in the backseat of the Jeep Grand Cherokee, which was being driven by Estrella.

Police say the saw a black male wearing a black sweatshirt jump into the driver's side of the Jeep and saw two other unidentified black males with paintball guns run into the woods.

Officers found two paintball guns, loaded and ready for use in the backseat of the Jeep. Damaine Brockett told police he was in the area with his paintball gun and saw police pull up and jumped into the Jeep.

Brockett and Estrella told police they did not shoot anybody, but both men were arrested shortly after police received a call from a  mother who said her daughter was hit in the eye with a paintball.

"I haven't owned a paintball gun since I was 13," Estrella said.

Estrella denies having any involvement in the paintball gun shooting, but did offer up an apology for what happened to the little girl.

"I'm sorry that it happened to her, she's an innocent 7-year-old. I have kids myself," Estrella said.

Estrella served two years prison after being convicted of shooting a man with a pistol three times in 2011. Then in August 2015, Estrella was arrested for firing a gun in a parking lot.

Recently, the girl's mother posted on her Facebook page,"Thank you everyone who prayed for my baby. She's doing a lot better and can finally open her eye again."

The judge told both suspects not to come in contact with the victim, who is expected to recover. Both men are free after posting a $50,000 bond, and they are expected back in court on December 1.

Waterbury Police Lt. Mike Slavin says the department has applied for arrest warrants for suspects wanted in other paintball shootings. Lt. Slavin told FOX 61 he believes there might be a connection to the shooting of the 7-year-old.

Police are investigating multiple other paintball shooting incidents around Waterbury, including  claims from residents that were attacked by shooters firing frozen paintballs.