Authorities on Wednesday were searching for two males in connection with the apparently gang-related fatal shooting of a baby in Compton, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.
The little girl, who had just turned 1, was in her crib when she was struck in the head by a bullet around 7 p.m., sheriff's investigators said.
A witness told the Los Angeles Times she heard several gunshots, followed by a woman screaming, “They shot my baby. They shot my baby.”
The witness called 911 before walking outside. At that point, the woman told the newspaper, she saw the infant's father, in tears, coming from the garage with the little girl in his arms.
“Someone take my baby to the hospital,” the witness heard the sobbing man say, according to the Times.
Deputies responded to the garage, located in the 300 block of North Holly Avenue, and found the infant. Since paramedics had not arrived yet, they decided to rush the child themselves to a local hospital, according to a news release from the Sheriff's Department.
The deputies arrived at the hospital minutes later. Doctors treated the little girl, but she succumbed to her injuries and was pronounced dead a short time later, the release stated.
The victim was later identified as Autumn Johnson.
The little girl's mother, who is pregnant, said on Wednesday there was no explanation for what happened to her daughter.
"My innocent baby got shot for nothing. She was sitting, just standing in her crib, and out of nowhere, gunshots,” Blanche Wandick said. “I miss my baby, I love my baby, but she’s gone, and I appreciate anybody who’s helping and trying to find who did it.”
Autumn's great aunt said that the child was restless on Sunday, and fondly remembered rocking her to sleep.
“I took her and I rocked her to sleep," said Kenyia Hicks, while fighting back tears. "Little did I know, when she closed her eyes, that was going to be my last time. If would have known, I would have held her forever. If i would have known.”
She had just celebrated her first birthday last week, according to a GoFundMe page set up to pay for Autumn's funeral.
The shooting appeared to have been gang-related, according to the Sheriff's Department. The girl's family was living in the attached garage, where the shots were fired.
“It looks like they targeted a person, and they didn’t shoot the house, they shot into the garage. So they were obviously targeting whoever’s living in the garage," said sheriff's Lt. John Corina.
“Of course the baby’s not the target," he added. "The baby caught a stray round."
When the girl was shot, the bullet wound was just above her eye, said Cornell Patton, the girl's great-uncle.
“She was 1 years old. Innocent. An innocent little girl lost her life yesterday over some foolishness," Patton said. “If black lives matter, man, let’s make it matter then. A little girl just got killed.”
Witnesses initially gave investigators only vague descriptions of the suspects.
Homicide detectives later released a bulletin identifying the suspects as two male blacks who were seen fleeing the shooting scene in a blue, newer model, four-door Chevrolet Impala.
Autumn's great aunt said she had one message for the assailants:
“Wherever you are, whoever you are, you know what it is that you did," Hicks said. "There’s not a crack, no crevice, or anywhere that you can hide, because God sits high, and he looks low, and he knows what it is that you did. So to deal with the wrath of the lord is far worse than the wrath that you’re going to deal with with the court system, because you will be brought to justice."
Anyone with information about the deadly shooting was encouraged to contact the Sheriff Department's Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500.
Anonymous tips can also be left by calling Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477, texting the letters TIPLA plus a tip to 274637, or by using the website http://lacrimestoppers.org.