Southern California

Pomona Drive-By Shooting Kills Adopted 8-Year-Old from Taiwan

An 8-year-old boy adopted from Taiwan by a Southern California family tragically lost his life in a Pomona drive-by shooting that has unleashed grief and outrage.

Jonah Min Hwang, his adoptive parents, and a second adopted son were visiting the home of another family from their Pomona Church Monday evening when at least four shots were fired into the house from outside on West 11th Street. Struck once in the head, the boy was transported to hospital, but did not survive.

"There are no words for this," said neighbor Liz Calvillo.  "It's horrible."

Neighbors placed flowers in the driveway of the home.

Jonah's adoptive parents had brought him from an orphanage in Taiwan less than three years ago to begin a new American life.

"He had an infectious smile and loved everyone and everything: sports, wrestling with his dad, running, laughing, superheroes," said Jonah's adoptive parents, Karen and Johnny Hwang, in a statement posted on GoFundMe by their cousin Sandi Hwang Adam. "With his playful demeanor, he adapted almost immediately to life in the United States and became a full-blooded American in no time at all.

"Jonah was a light and joy in our household and we cannot imagine our family without him."

During the day Tuesday, Pomona police mustered a task force of multiple law enforcement agencies, canvassing the neighborhood for possible evidence and witness information, in particular seeking security camera video showing the drive-by vehicle, initially described only as a dark-colored car. Whether more than one person was inside the car was unclear.  

"I'm sure it was not their intention to kill an 8-year-old child. Now that they know that information, the right thing to do is to step forward and own what they did," said Pomona Police Lt. Eddie Vasquez.

Police acknowledged they are at a loss to fathom a motive for this drive-by, and a previous one a month ago when no one was home.

"This was a truly innocent family," Vasquez said.  They have lived in the house more than a decade, raising their own children.

Neighbors described them as good, church-going people. The husband teaches math at a local high school. It's believed the wife has also worked as a teacher.

Like the Hwang family, they are active in Pomona's First Presbyterian Church, and led Bible-study classes. The Church is well-known in the community for providing the Pomona Hope afterschool program for at-risk youth. Karen Hwang serves on organization's governing board, the organization said.

"I just don't understand why that house," said 11th Street resident Justin Armijo.

Police said it is possible the shooter intended to target another location, or was seeking to avenge some perceived slight.  The vehicle in the previous drive-by shooting was described as a pickup truck.  

Beyond the attack, what troubled neighbors even more was the shooter's recklessness.

"I wish when things like this would happen, that they would think." said Patty Armijo.

That child's adoptive parents, who "had moved into the neighborhood with a missional purpose to help the community," wrote Sandi Hwang Adam in her original posting on GoFundMe. "They are now faced with incredible grief and a multitude of expenses."

Pomoma Police issued a plea for anyone with information on the shooting to contact department investigators.

If you would like to donate to a GoFundMe account set up to help Jonah's family, you may do so here. Note that GoFundMe deducts 7.9 percent of all funds raised in the form of platform and payment processing charges.

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