OAKLAND, Calif. — Oakland police intensified their manhunt Tuesday for a drive-by shooter who sprayed a sidewalk with gunfire, wounding two men and killing a 3-year-old in his stroller – the youngest victim of gang violence in the city this year, authorities said.
Oakland Deputy Police Chief Eric Breshears said Tuesday that he was confident arrests will be made soon.
“We have investigative leads and expect that we will have closure to this,” Breshears said. “We’re hoping that having the crime being quickly solved will bring some closure to the family.”
On Monday, Oakland Police Chief Anthony Batts didn’t hide his emotions when talking about the city’s latest homicide.
“To be honest, I’m a little off balance right now,” he told KTVU outside Oakland’s Children’s Hospital. “I just went up to talk with the parents and give our condolences for the loss of a 3-year-old baby. I’m a little tired of having to do that in the confines of the city.”
“I am tired of the level of violence that takes place where you have an innocent child three years old lost. You don’t know how tough it is to look a parent in the face who has just lost their 3-year-old and the pain they are going through and say you are sorry.”
Batts said his agency was mounting an all-out effort to find the killers.
“I’ve called a tactical alert within the city,” he said. “We are holding over units. We are going to put units out in this location – this appears on first glance to be an ongoing feud between two parties we are aware of. I think that is unacceptable. We have a couple leads we are going to track down and bring these people to justice.”
Relative have identified the 3-year-old as Carlos Fernandez Nava, who was in his stroller shaped like a car with his parents at the time of the shooting.
Police spokeswoman Holly Joshi said officers responded to reports of shots fired in the area of 65th Avenue and International Boulevard at 1:12 p.m. on Monday.
Two men were found injured in front of a Little Ceasars Pizza restaurant at 6447 International Blvd. and were taken to a hospital with injuries that were not life-threatening.
The boy, who was with his family when the shooting occurred, was taken to Children’s Hospital of Oakland where he was pronounced dead.
Police believe that the two men were the intended targets and that the boy had no connection to the men, Joshi said.
The suspect or suspects shot the victims from a passing car, but no vehicle description was immediately available.
Investigators are asking anyone with information to contact police at (510) 238-3821.
It was the not the first time the neighborhood has seen a child wounded by stray bullets. In April 2009, 1-year-old Prosperity Banks was hospitalized along with a 4-year-old girl and a 14-year-old boy after they were all hit by daytime gunfire.
A memorial for the boy has been set up on the sidewalk near where the shooting happened. Mourners have dropped off stuffed animals, candles, and a large baby bottle. There is also a large poster on which community members have written condolence messages.
Oakland Mayor Jean Quan and other city leaders will participate in a vigil for the boy Tuesday night.
“The death of an innocent child caught in crossfire in broad daylight breaks my heart,” Quan said in a statement.
“Too many innocents are becoming statistics in our city. Gun battles in our neighborhoods are not and will not be the norm,” she said.