Monday, September 25, 2006

Girl killed in interracial gang violence in Los Angeles

Erika Hayasaki:

A 3-year-old girl was shot and killed Sunday afternoon and her father was seriously wounded as they arrived at their Baldwin Village apartment after a trip to McDonald's, police said.

Cesar Avila, 24, was helping his two daughters get out of the family's car, which was parked in the 4500 block of Pinafore Street, about 2:45 p.m. when two men drove up in a gray Nissan Quest minivan. The passenger got out of the van, walked up to the family and started shooting, Los Angeles Police Officer Michael Lopez said.

Avila was shot several times in the torso and taken to UCLA Medical Center, where he was listed in critical condition. His daughter, Kaitlyn, was pronounced dead at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

Deputy Chief Charles Beck, who oversees the Los Angeles Police Department's South Bureau, said the shooting was a tragedy that "hits home for all of us."

He said detectives were pursuing "good leads" and were interviewing possible suspects Sunday evening.

Beck said the two assailants identified themselves as gang members before the shooting. They apparently believed the girl's father belonged to a rival gang, he said, but police have no evidence that he was a gang member.

The men in the van were African American and the victims Latino, police said.

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