4-year-old shot dead in front of parents in 'unimaginable' road rage crime

ByBill Hutchinson ABCNews logo
Monday, December 18, 2023
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A 4-year-old boy was fatally shot in front of his parents in what Southern California authorities described as an "unimaginable" road rage incident involving two suspects who allegedly chased down the victim's family and unleashed a barrage of gunfire on their vehicle.

The fatal shooting occurred Friday night in Los Angeles County after the assailants allegedly cut off the family's car on a highway in Lancaster, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

"It's unimaginable. This could have been any of our families. It could have been any of us," Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris told Los Angeles ABC station KABC.

A 29-year-old man and a 27-year-old woman were arrested and booked at the Los Angeles County Jail on suspicion of murder, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said in a statement to ABC News on Sunday. The suspects' names were not immediately released.

The violence unfolded around 7:30 p.m. local time Friday as the victim's family was driving on the Sierra Highway in Lancaster and encountered the suspects in traffic, according to the sheriff's department.

"During the incident, the suspect driver cut them off and then began following them through several surface streets," the LASD said. "While being pursued by the suspects, the victim driver slowed his vehicle, at which time the suspect driver pulled up along the passenger side of the victim's car and began shooting."

A bullet was fired into the family's car and hit the child, who was in the backseat, in the torso, authorities said.

"His father and mother, who were in the vehicle, immediately transported him to a local hospital where he was pronounced deceased," according to the sheriff's statement.

The child's name is being withheld pending an autopsy by the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner.

The boy's parents were not injured.

Investigators were able to identify and track down the suspects within hours through the use of crime-fighting technology the city of Lancaster installed earlier this year, according to Parris.

Detectives said the suspects' vehicle was detected by the city's Flock Safety automated license plate recognition technology intended to reduce crime by alerting law enforcement when a stolen or wanted vehicle enters city limits, Parris said.

"We know where they've been, we know where they're going, so when a crime is committed, we can go back in time and find out where they are," Parris told KABC.

The investigation was continuing Sunday, and the sheriff's department asked that anyone with information to call its homicide bureau at 323-890-5500.

The incident marked the second time in two days that a child has died from gunfire in the United States, according to the Gun Violence Archive, a website that tracks shooting incidents nationwide. On Saturday, an infant was fatally shot at a home in Memphis, Tennessee, police said.

A 1-year-old baby was fatally shot at a home in Memphis, Tennessee, early Saturday morning, police told Memphis ABC affiliate WATN.

Police officers responded to an emergency call from a home in the Frayser neighborhood of north Memphis and found the mortally wounded baby inside, according to the Memphis Police Department. The infant later died at a hospital, police said.

The circumstances of the shooting remain under investigation and no further information was made public by the MPD.

At least 284 children 11 years old or younger have been killed in shootings this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive.