Mother of infant slain in East Palo Alto blames herself for not protecting him 

The grief-stricken mom of a slain 3-month-old child said she partly blames herself for not shielding her baby from a hail of bullets that were fired by teenage thugs in an apparent case of mistaken identity.

During a heart-wrenching news conference Monday, 22-year-old Ivonne Garcia-Lopez winced in pain from a gunshot wound and sobbed uncontrollably as she detailed her futile attempt to save the lives of both her children in the heartless Sunday killing that has outraged a community.

Two gunmen opened fire on a car containing the family as they left a baby shower Sunday morning. The infant was killed and his mother and father injured. The child’s brother, a 4-year-old, was unharmed after his mother shielded him.

Police say community tips helped lead cops to an East Palo Alto home where two suspects ages 16 and 17 were detained.

The 17-year-old was formerly 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 still building a case against the 16-year-old and are seeking more tips from the public, Davis said.

Police believe the shooting was retaliation for a gang fight on 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 backseat while her husband stepped on the gas. But her 3-month-old infant died of a bullet to the head, Liu 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, a devastated Garcia-Lopez faced the media Monday to denounce the killing. Her husband remained in the hospital. She winced in pain at every step and sobbed as she detailed the horrific scene.

She said she shielded her 4-year-old and thought her 3-month-old was protected in the car seat. The infant was crying and bleeding from the head, she said.

“I took him out of the car seat and he had a hole in his head,” the devastated mom said, adding that she felt responsible for not being able to save her child’s life.

The shooting has traumatized the family, and the 4-year-old is suffering flashbacks, Garcia-Lopez said.

According to police, the 17-year-old suspect was seeking vengeance on Sureno 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 Surenos were in the car.

“But they were not,” Liu said.

Garcia-Lopez said she and her husband did not know the teenage suspects involved in the shooting.

“They destroyed my family!” Garcia-Lopez said.

Liu said the suspects did not mention knowing there were children in the car.

Garcia-Lopez said she believed they knew.

“They should be in school learning, getting themselves prepared to be somebody in life, not killers,” Garcia-Lopez said. “I don’t know where their parents were at.”

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