AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — A Maine man was sentenced to eight years in prison for firing shots into a house that injured a 7-year-old girl in Waterville.

Gavin Tyler Loabe, 19, of Mercer, apologized to the girl’s parents on Wednesday, calling the drive-by shooting “one of the most cowardly acts a person can commit,” the Kennebec Journal reported.

“I’m sorry for hurting your little girl. From the bottom of my heart I am,” he said through tears before being sentenced.

The girl was having a snack when she was struck by one of five bullets fired into her family’s home on Feb. 28, 2020. A bullet fragment lodged between two vertebra, where it remains, and she spent nearly a week in a hospital.

The girl’s father, Charles Frost Jr., said the shooting started a chain of events that has been difficult for the family.

“You’ve robbed them of their innocence and created this downward spiral that is going out of control,” he said.

Prosecutor Chris Coleman said the downward spiral included the girl and her family becoming homeless.

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Superior Court Justice William Stokes sentenced Loabe to 15 years but suspended a portion of the sentence. He said he took into account Loabe’s age and lack of criminal history.

“This is going to be with you for the rest of your life, the same way that bullet is going to be inside (the girl),” Stokes said.

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