Mother Pleads for Justice in 4-Year-Old Boy's Shooting Death

Detectives and family members of a 4-year-old boy shot and killed in Altadena appealed for the public's help Thursday in identifying whoever is responsible for the child's death.

Salvador Esparza III of Monrovia was pronounced dead at a hospital after he was shot about 10:40 p.m. on July 5 at 384 W. Figueroa Drive. The kindergarten-bound boy had been visiting family friends when he was wounded, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

A 27-year-old man was also wounded in the shooting, officials said.

"If anybody knows any information regarding this, please, please, please don't be scared to talk," the boy's mother, Coral Salvador, said. "Please just talk to the detectives, talk to somebody about it. I really want justice for my son."

At the time of the shooting, sheriff's Lt. John Corina said a person of interest had gotten into a heated alcohol-fueled argument in the street with the live-in boyfriend of the mother of the slain boy an hour or two before the shooting.

The boyfriend and his brother were the shooter's intended targets, sheriff's Lt. John Corina said.

"It's never easy when you see a child lose his life and it's never easy for anybody and of course he's not the intended target, not the intended victim in this," Corina said. "You know a bullet has no name so it just ends up striking a child who just happened to be on the porch."

Both victims were visiting the home and several other young children were asleep inside when the gunfire broke out, Corina said.

A gunman walked up to the home, located just east of the Foothill (210) Freeway, and fired at least 13 rounds, striking the victims as they sat on a porch, according to the sheriff's department.

Both were taken to Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena, where the boy was pronounced dead, said coroner's Assistant Chief Ed Winter.

The man, who deputies described as a family friend not related to the child, was hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries, according to the sheriff's department.

The gunman, who Corina said is possibly a gang member who lives in the neighborhood, got into a dark car and fled the scene. The attack was initially described as a drive-by shooting but investigators later determined the gunman walked toward the victims from the direction of Olive Avenue.

The victim's mother and other family members are expected to join sheriff's investigators at Thursday's 11 a.m. news conference at the crime scene.

A $20,000 reward was offered for information leading to the identification, arrest and conviction of whoever is responsible for the boy's death.

Anyone with information about the shooting was urged to contact the sheriff's department at (323) 890-5500 or, anonymously, Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-TIPS.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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