‘It could have been any of us’: 4-year-old killed in front of parents in California road shooting

At least 284 children were fatally shot in 2023, according to the Gun Violence Archive.

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 the victim’s family and opened fire on their vehicle.

The fatal shooting happened Friday night in Los Angeles County after gunmen allegedly cut off the family’s car on a freeway in Lancaster, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

“This is unimaginable. It 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 into the Los Angeles County Jail on suspicion of murder, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement to ABC News on Sunday. The names of the suspects were not immediately released.

The violence unfolded around 7:30 p.m. local time Friday as the victim’s family was driving on Sierra Highway in Lancaster when they 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,” LASD said. “While being pursued by the suspects, the victim’s driver slowed his vehicle, at which time the suspect driver pulled over to the passenger side of the victim’s car and began firing.”

A bullet was fired into the family’s car and struck the child, who was in the back seat, 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 dead,” according to the sheriff’s statement.

The child’s name has not been released 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 installed by the city of Lancaster earlier this year, according to Parris.

Detectives said the suspects’ vehicle was detected by the city’s Flock Safety automated license plate recognition technology designed 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,” Paris told KABC.

The investigation was ongoing Sunday, and the sheriff’s department asked anyone with information to call the homicide unit at 323-890-5500.

The incident marked the second time in two days that a child has died in a shooting in the United States, according to the Gun Violence Archive, a website that tracks shooting incidents across the country. A baby was fatally shot at a home in Memphis, Tennessee, on Saturday, police said.

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

Police officers responded to a 911 call from a home in the Fraser neighborhood of north Memphis and found the fatally wounded baby inside, according to the Memphis Police Department. The baby later died at a hospital, police said.

The circumstances surrounding the shooting remain under investigation and no further information has been released by MPD.

At least 284 children 11 or younger have been killed by gunfire this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive.

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