5-Year-Old Tattles; Mom Arrested for Attempted Murder

Cops say child helped them crack the case

LOS ANGELES -- Three people were in jail Thursday on suspicion of attempted murder for a drive-by shooting in South Los Angeles that wounded a 7-year-old girl, and police said the gunfire was not gang-related, but the result of a child-custody dispute involving a 5-year-old girl.

Toni Valentine, 29, is accused of driving a van, with her 5-year-old daughter inside, to her ex-husband's home in the 300 block of West 47th Street, around 7:25 p.m. Tuesday, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.

Valentine's boyfriend, Dante Quezada, 32, allegedly got out of the van and opened fire at the house, injuring the 7-year-old girl -- who is the niece of Valentine's ex-husband, police said. Quezada is a known gang member, police said.

The girl, whose name was withheld, was with her grandparents when she was wounded. She remains hospitalized in serious but stable condition.

Police, who initially said the shooting was gang-related, now believe the motive for the shooting was an ongoing child custody dispute between Valentine and her ex-husband, said LAPD Officer Jason Lee. The ex-husband was not home at the time of the shooting.

"Although this is not a gang motivated crime, the M.O. in this case is unfortunately all too emblematic of the way the gangs in our city operate, and I suspect that Mr. Quezada learned the cowardly little trick of shooting into the house blindly," said LAPD Deputy Chief Sergio Diaz.

Valentine and Quezada used 36-year-old Felipe Carias' van to commit the drive-by shooting, and Carias provided the weapon, police said. Police believe Carias was also in the van when the shooting occurred.

Police said Quezada got out and "fired numerous rounds into the residence, striking the 7-year-old girl" in the arm and chest.

Valentine, Quezada and Carias were all arrested Wednesday night and booked on suspicion of attempted murder. They were each being held in lieu of $500,000 bail.

Contact Us