Reward for Information on Watts Baby's Killer Totals $100,000

Police are seeking tips on the identity of a teenager who shot a 14-month-old in Watts

By Melissa Pamer and Annette Arreola
|  Wednesday, Jun 6, 2012  |  Updated 10:24 AM PDT
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Angel Cortez was shot and killed in Watts Monday night while being cradled in his father's arms. Police are concerned that if a suspect is not arrested immediately, the incident could lead to more violence. The Los Angeles City Council approved a $50,000 reward Tuesday for information leading to the arrest of the shooter. After this segment aired at 5 p.m., the Los Angeles Kings hockey team added $50,000 to that reward. Beverly White reports from South Los Angeles for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on June 5, 2012.

Beverly White

Angel Cortez was shot and killed in Watts Monday night while being cradled in his father's arms. Police are concerned that if a suspect is not arrested immediately, the incident could lead to more violence. The Los Angeles City Council approved a $50,000 reward Tuesday for information leading to the arrest of the shooter. After this segment aired at 5 p.m., the Los Angeles Kings hockey team added $50,000 to that reward. Beverly White reports from South Los Angeles for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on June 5, 2012.

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Family Says It Has No Gang Ties After Baby's Killing in Watts

Fourteen-month-old Angel Cortez was killed by a teenager who rode up to the family's Watts and opened fire. LAPD investigators suspect the shooting was gang related, but the family says it has no gang ties. Annette Arreola reports from Watts for the NBC4 News at Noon on June 5, 2012.
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As rewards jumped Tuesday to $100,000 for information leading to the arrest of the shooter of a 14-month boy who was killed Monday night in Watts, police were hoping that they'll receive more tips. 

The Los Angeles City Council on Tuesday approved a $50,000 reward for information leading to the gunman's arrest. The Los Angeles Kings added their own $50,000 to the reward later Tuesday.

Investigators said they suspect a gang-related motivation was at work in the shooting that also injured victim Angel Cortez's 24-year-old father.

"We're asking people to come forward, even if it's anonymously, to give us a direction to go in," Los Angeles Police Department Capt. Philip Tingirides said. "We know that if we can make an arrest in this, we'll keep it from escalating into more violence."

At a press conference Tuesday at which father Mauro Cortez broke down crying, Watts Gang Task Force member Perry Crouch urged the shooter to come forward.

"For the sake of everybody, young man, please turn yourself in right away," Crouch said.

The Angel was being held by father Mauro in front of the family's home in the 10500 block of Hickory Street (map) when a teenager on a bicycle rode up just before 8 p.m. and opened fire. The father tried to shield his son, uncle Albert Cervantes said.

"He was saying, 'My kid, my kid. They got my kid!'" Cervantes recalled.

At a press conference Tuesday afternoon, Mauro Cortez, who suffered a shoulder wound, appealed to the public for help in finding the his son's killer.

Cervantes said the young child had just begun to walk.

Councilman Joe Buscaino, a former LA police officer who now represents the area and who sponsored the reward, said the black and Hispanic gangs have been warring recently.

"We will not stand for this injustice. We will capture this cowardly baby killer and punish him to the fullest extent of the law,'' Buscaino said.

Cortez's family said they have no gang ties, but Cervantes guessed that someone at the home wearing a purple shirt may have led others to suspect gang affiliation.

The father and son were transported to the hospital Monday night, where the baby was initially listed in critical condition but died after surgery. The father was listed in stable condition and then released Monday night.

"I'm so angry that this kind of thing could happen, because this is the scenario that we talk about constantly in community meetings and that is the innocent kids, in this case a baby, who get caught in the middle," Tingirides said Monday.

Police on scene Monday said the shooting may have been retaliation for four gang members who were recently called into court, but said the investigation was still underway. Federal agents are assisting LAPD detectives.

LAPD plans a community meeting about the shooting.  


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