Detectives Negotiate Surrender of Man Suspected of Shooting Compton 3-Year-Old

The child's name was Franklin Ponros.

A suspect wanted in connection with the shooting death of a 3-year-old boy in Compton surrendered Monday afternoon to homicide detectives, according to the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department.

The suspect was identified as Dwayne Christopher Ward, 29, described as a street gang member and convicted armed robber on parole.

Prior to his surrender, Ward called a community activist and said he had fired in self-defense after another man in the parking lot shot at him, and was not aware there was a child in the line of fire.

To arrange the surrender, detectives had negotiated with the suspect's family and his attorney, according to Deputy Wally Bracks.

The shooting occurred at 7:44 p.m. Saturday in the 2800 block of West Alondra Boulevard in Compton, said Deputy Charles Moore of the Sheriff's Information Bureau. Franklin Ponros died at a hospital, the coroner's office reported.

Two men were arguing in the parking lot of a business. One of the men involved in the dispute began to get into a car driven by his girlfriend, Moore said. The suspect then fired shots into the vehicle, and the occupants subsequently discovered that the 3-year-old boy had suffered a gunshot wound, he said.

Deputies responding to the 17200 block of South Central Avenue in Carson, to where the child's mother apparently had driven in search of help, rushed the boy to an area hospital, where he was later pronounced dead, officials said.

"A 3-year-old baby has no business losing his life at such a young age," Paulette Simpson-Gibson of the NAACP said at a vigil. "The violence has to stop. The gangs have to stop. We as a community demand justice."

Dozens of mourners, including the boy's cousins and the alleged shooter's father, gathered at the crime scene Sunday evening for a candlelight vigil, Najee Ali, director of Project Islamic Hope, said.

"This 3-year-old child's death struck a nerve with everyone,'' Ali said, adding that many of the mourners were parents. "The reality is that this child could've been anyone's child, who was simply in the car at the store and lost his life.''

Among those attending the vigil was the suspect's father, who approached Ali afterwards, he said.  Later Ali was surprised when he got a telephone call from the man now identified as Ward.

"The alleged shooter told me it was self defense," Ali said.  The man contended the other man fired first, said he did not know there was a boy in the car, and expressed sadness at the boy's death, Ali recalled the man saying.

Sheriff's Captain Michael Thatcher of the Compton station said with the case under investigation, he cannot comment on the assertion there was more than one shooter.

Sheriff's homicide detectives, who suspect the shooting was gang-related, have asked anyone with information regarding the boy's death to call them at 323-890-5500.

If you would like to donate to a GoFundMe account set up for Franklin Ponros, you may do so here. Note that GoFundMe deducts 2.9 percent of all funds raised, plus 30 cents per donation, in the form of payment processing charges.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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