A 16-year-old girl was shot and killed when she was caught in a car-to-car crossfire as she returned home from church with her family Wednesday night in Lynwood.
The girl, her mother and brother were driving back home when the shooting occurred at around 9:27 p.m. at the 12600 block of Long Beach Boulevard, according to Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide detectives.
The girl was riding in the back seat of a gray Mustang when she was shot in her upper torso. "Although life saving measures were performed," the girl died from her injuries at the scene, detectives said in a statement.
The girl was identified as Danah Rojo-Rivas of Hawthorne on Thursday morning, according to the Los Angeles County Coroner's Office.
Detectives said Rojo-Rivas was riding in the back seat of her family's car with a dog on her lap as her mother drove eastbound on Euclid Avenue. Her 18-year-old brother was sitting in the passenger seat.
Simultaneously, a "possible car-to-car shooting or chase was approaching from behind, unbeknownst to them," homicide detectives said in a statement Thursday.
When a car that was the intended target of the shooting became stuck at a stoplight, a man got out of another car and started shooting toward the car he was targeting.
One of those shots struck Rojo-Rivas's family car near the rear license plate and struck her from behind.
The shooter's car then made a U-turn and drove away headed westward on Euclid Avenue, authorities said.
The two men inside a red Saturn SUV, which detectives say was the intended target of the shooting, were not injured. Both men ran away after the shooting, leaving the car behind.
Rojo-Rivas's mother pulled over after her daughter was shot, detectives said in a statement. Although her mother and brother were not hurt, the dog sitting on Rojo-Rivas's lap ran into the street when she was shot and was fatally struck by a car.
A vigil of flowers and candles grew Thursday night on Euclid Avenue, where family and friends gathered to mourn.
"She was only 16. She had her whole life ahead of her," said Ethan Rojo, her brother. "She has everything in front of her. She was my only sister."
Neighbors said the shooting was so close to the church, fellow worshippers ran out to help the family when they heard the gunshots.
"I saw the life go out of her eyes," Ethan Rojo said. "I just stood there, I couldn't do anything."
Although there was no description of the shooter or his car, detectives noted there may be more than one suspect involved.
The gun had not been recovered Thursday, and the investigation of the shooting was ongoing.
Anyone with information about the shooting was encouraged to call the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500.
The family set up a GoFundMe to help with funeral costs that can be found here.