A 9-year-old girl has been rushed to hospital after she was hit by a stray bullet while traveling in an SUV in Washington, D.C. Officers are on the lookout for a male suspect in connection with the shooting.

The Metropolitan Police Department said the child was inside a red SUV when shots were fired in Shippen Lane SE on Sunday. One of the bullets struck the child as she sat in the backseat of the vehicle, WTOP News reported.

Two unidentified adults were also in the SUV at the time of the shooting. They drove about a mile away from the scene before finally realizing that the 9-year-old girl was shot.

"What we know is that they were unaware she was shot until they reached this location," said Lashay Makal, police commander for the Seventh District.

Officers found the girl with a gunshot wound to her back. She was transported to a hospital and was reportedly in stable condition. The two adults were uninjured.

It is believed the child was not the intended target.

"Right now, we are in the early stages of the investigation, but we have located a crime scene," Makal said during a press briefing. "We have recovered multiple shell casings in the road there."

"It's disheartening. It's disheartening, and again, it's just outrageous. I am outraged and the community should be outraged as well," Makal added.

Police are on the lookout for a Black suspect who was wearing a ski mask. He was driving a dark-colored sedan.

Shippen Lane residents were shocked to hear the news as there were children playing and enjoying Sunday cookouts close to the shooting scene.

"That affects us emotionally, it's like PTSD to the extreme," Bryan Bowling, who lives in the neighborhood, told WUSA9. "I want to extend my condolences to this mother, grandmother, sister, brother that had to deal with this little girl. You know, my heart goes out to them."

Oye Owolewa, who also lives in the neighborhood and is the district's elected shadow representative in the House, said a stray bullet had struck his own home last year.

"Even if you're not doing the wrong thing, you too can be in harm's way of a stray bullet," Owolewa told NBC Washington. "At the end of the day, a 9-year-old was shot. There's no reason for a 9-year-old to have to suffer through a gunshot wound."

Representational image (police car)
Representational image (Source: Pixabay / diegoparra)