The grief-stricken mother of a slain 3-month-old said she blames herself for not shielding her baby from a hail of bullets fired by teenage gunmen in an apparent case of mistaken identity.
In a heart-wrenching news conference Monday, Ivonne Garcia-Lopez, 22, winced in pain from a gunshot wound and sobbed uncontrollably as she detailed her futile attempt to save her child during the Sunday incident.
Two men opened fire on a car containing the family, who were leaving a baby shower Sunday morning, killing the infant boy and injuring his mother and father. The baby’s brother, a 4-year-old, was not harmed.
An outraged community flooded police with tips, which led cops to 16- and 17-year-old suspects.
The 17-year-old was arrested and booked into San Mateo Juvenile Hall after providing statements implicating him in the crime, East Palo Alto police Chief Ronald Davis said Monday. Cops are building a case against the 16-year-old and are seeking more tips from the public, Davis said.
Police said the shooting was retaliation for a gang fight May 31 in Redwood City. However, the gunmen opened fire on the wrong people, acting East Palo Alto police Capt. Jeff Liu said.
The child’s mother said she desperately tried to shield her two sons in the back seat while her husband stepped on the gas. She said she thought her 3-month-old would be protected in the car seat, but that wasn’t the case.
“I took him out of the car seat and he had a hole in his head,” the devastated mom said.
Garcia-Lopez suffered a gunshot wound to the leg. Her husband, Oscar Jimenez, 22, was shot in the arm. Using a walker and still wearing her identification band from the hospital, Garcia-Lopez faced the media Monday to denounce the killing. Her husband remained in the hospital.
The shooting has traumatized the family, and her 4-year-old is suffering flashbacks, Garcia-Lopez said.
According to police, the 17-year-old suspect was allegedly seeking vengeance on Sureño members who had beaten him up in Redwood City on May 31. The night of the shooting, he thought he saw two of the gang members on Wisteria Drive, near the home where the baby shower was taking place, police said.
He fetched a gun and, with an accomplice, went back to Wisteria Drive. They thought the two Sureños were in the car.
“But they were not,” Liu said.
Garcia-Lopez said she and her husband did not know the teenage suspects in the shooting.
“They destroyed my family,” Garcia-Lopez said. They should be in school learning, getting themselves prepared to be somebody in life, not killers. Not killing 3-month-old kids. I don’t know where their parents were at.”