Father: 9-Year-Old Daughter "Died in My Arms" After Shooting Outside Home - NBC Southern California

Father: 9-Year-Old Daughter "Died in My Arms" After Shooting Outside Home

Ximena Meza, shot and killed as she played on a sidewalk, would have turned 10 next month

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Community Outraged Over 9-Year-Old's Killing

    An Anaheim community voiced their anger and frustration Thursday night after a 9-year-old girl was shot to death while playing on the sidewalk. A $57,500 reward was offered for information in the fatal shooting. Beverly White reports for the NBC4 News at 11 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 23, 2014. (Published Friday, Oct. 24, 2014)

    A more than $50,000 reward was being offered Thursday to find the killer of a 9-year-old girl who was was playing with her friends in front of her family's Anaheim home when she was fatally shot.

    Ximena Meza was struck by at least one round outside the 2300 block of Greenacre Avenue (map) on Wednesday and later died at UC Irvine Medical Center. She would have been 10 next month.

    Her father told NBC4 he heard gunfire before his daughter ran back to the residence bleeding from her side.

    "She ran in there and she died in my arms. I just held her...I know she is with God right now," father William Meza said. "We don't have any idea about it. They were just playing right there. We just heard the shots -- three shots. She ran inside the apartment. When I grabbed her she was bleeding from the side.

    $50K Reward Offered in Shooting Death of 9-Year-Old

    [LA] $50K Reward Offered in Shooting Death of 9 Year Old
    Officials are aggressively looking for the person responsible for shooting and killing 9-year-old Ximena Mesa and are expected to announce a $50,000 reward to help find her killer. Vikki Vargas reports for NBC4 News at 6 p.m. from Anaheim Thursday, Oct. 23, 2014.
    (Published Thursday, Oct. 23, 2014)

    "She was amazing -- awesome daughter. I just love her. She is an angel," Meza said.

    No arrests had been reported Thursday. What began as a $5,000 reward for information in her killing reached $57,500 Thursday night with funding from the Anaheim Police Officers Association, the city of Anaheim, and the Orange County Attorney's Association.

    Community members packed a recreation center Thursday night to demand justice for Ximena.

    "I don't live in the area but this is my community. My son goes to the junior high. My kid goes to the school with the girl who was murdered," one resident said. "It upsets me."

    Balloons, stuffed animals and other items were left outside the residence in memory of Ximena, the oldest of three sisters whose family moved to the neighborhood about three months ago. School excellence awards for math, language arts and other achievements also were placed at the site of the shooting.

    One of the certificates called the fifth-grade student a "shining star."

    "I'm not angry, I just have pain in my heart," grandfather Alonso Ortiz said.

    The coroner's office identified the victim Thursday morning, hours after a 12-year-old boy discovered his playmate had been wounded by the gunfire. The two were among several children playing on the sidewalk in front of the apartments next to Brookhurst Park, police said.

    "Her eyes were just like all rolled back," Hector Jiminez said.

    Police were called to the neighborhood southwest of the 5 Freeway by witnesses who reported the sound of gunfire, said Anaheim Police Lt. Bob Dunn said.

    Authorities are attempting to determine whether Ximena was caught in crossfire of a group of boys or men nearby.

    "One male exited the white car and fired several rounds in the direction of a group of males," Anaheim Police Chief Raul Quezada said. "Ximena was struck with one of the rounds. Following the shooting, the male re-entered the vehicle and left."

    Father Mourns Girl Killed in Shooting

    [LA] Father Mourns Girl Killed in Shooting
    The father of a 9-year-old girl who was killed in a shooting Wednesday night in Anaheim mourned the loss of his daughter, saying she "died in my arms." Police continued to investigate who was responsible for the killing. Vikki Vargas reports live for the NBC4 News at Noon on Thursday, Oct. 23, 2014.By Kevin Dahlgren
    (Published Thursday, Oct. 23, 2014)

    "We have very limited information on any type of suspects. All we know is that there were some males involved. Whether that's more than one or six or more, we don't know," Dunn said.

    Neighbors told NBC4 they have witnessed gang activity in a nearby park, but authorities have not confirmed whether the shooting involved gang members.

    Anaheim Police believe potential witnesses at the park and apartment buildings nearby may provide them with additional information. Quezada said solving the case was the department's "number one priority."

    "Innocent children shouldn't be dying so young," said neighbor Kimberly Rodriguez, who grew up in the neighborhood and left a stuffed animal with a flower at the site of the shooting. "It's just ridiculous.

    "I can't imagine what (the family) is going through right now."

    Ximena's aunt started a GoFundMe account at GoFundMe.com/g6n68k.

    Neighbors React to Girl's Shooting Death

    [LA] Neighbors React to Girl's Shooting Death
    Neighbors say they are shocked after the shooting death of a 9-year-old girl outside her Anaheim home. Toni Guinyard reports for Today in LA on Thursday Oct. 23, 2014.
    (Published Thursday, Oct. 23, 2014)

    Beverly White contributed to this report.

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