COMPTON — Sheriff’s investigators searched Feb. 10 for two men involved in the shooting death of a year-old girl during a suspected gang attack.
Witnesses told sheriff’s investigators the attack was carried out Feb. 9 by two males in a dark sedan, with one of the suspects opening fire into the garage of a home, said Deputy Trina Schrader of the Sheriff’s Information Bureau.
Detectives were trying to determine what prompted the shooting and whether it was related to a gang dispute, said Cmdr. Rod Kusch, who heads the sheriff’s Major Crimes Bureau.
The girl, identified by the coroner’s office as Autumn Johnson, was not the target of the attackers, Kusch said.
One round hit the child in the head while she was in her crib inside a converted garage, according to the Sheriff’s Department.
A witness who declined to give her full name told the Los Angeles Times she heard several gunshots followed by a woman screaming: “They shot my baby. They shot my baby.” The witness said she called 911 before walking outside, where she saw the baby’s sobbing father emerge from the garage with his daughter in his arms.
“Someone take my baby to the hospital,” the father said.
Since fire department paramedics had not arrived, the responding sheriff’s deputies rushed the infant to St. Francis Medical Center in Lynwood, Schrader said. She was pronounced dead at the hospital.
Deputies were dispatched at 6:58 p.m. to the area of East San Marcus Street and North Holly Avenue on a report of several shots fired, said Sgt. Ulysses Cruz of the Compton Sheriff’s Station.
The site of the shooting, about a block from Roosevelt Elementary School, is one of the more violent neighborhoods in L.A. County, according to crime data compiled by The Times. In the last six months, Compton has had 475 violent crimes, including eight homicides, according to The Times’ database.
In a statement, Compton Mayor Aja Brown called the shooting “a tragedy that no parent should ever have to face.”
“My heart goes out to the family of 1-year-old Autumn Johnson killed … as she lay in her crib in her own home. There is no justification for this horrendous tragedy. There is no excuse that anyone can give for taking the life of a precious baby girl who had not even begun to realize her full potential in life,” Brown said.
“While nothing can bring Autumn back to her parents, let her death not be in vain. I stand today with Compton residents in recommitting ourselves to the fight against gang violence. Help Autumn’s family achieve justice by contacting local law enforcement officials if you know anything about this crime and the suspects sought,” Brown said.
Anyone with information on the case is urged to call the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau, (323) 890-5500; or Crime Stoppers, (800) 222-TIPS.