The motive of a gunman who opened fire on a man in his Del Rey home late Easter evening, shooting an 8-year-old boy who was left was in critical condition, remained unknown Monday, police said.
The shooting occurred shortly before midnight on Sunday near Wagner Street and Inglewood Boulevard (map).
The father, who was not identified, was waiting for an older son to come home, so he was not alarmed when he heard the screen door open, police said. He went to the door and came face to face with the gunman, who opened fire.
“He went to the front door — he thought it was his 20-year-old son — when he’s confronted by the suspect with the handgun,” Los Angeles Police Department Sgt. Frank Preciado said.
The gunman shot at the boy’s father about 10 times, Preciado said.
Though initially it was not exactly clear where the boy had been when he was shot, Preciado said Monday afternoon that the gunfire went through a wall in the living room into the boy’s bedroom.
The boy’s father ran into the bedroom to try to shield his son, and evidence at the scene indicated the gunman followed the father and continued to fire, the sergeant said.
The boy had already been struck when the father went in to try to protect him further, an initial investigation showed.
Another child who was sleeping in the home but was unharmed, as was the father.
The gunman fled the home, and some witnesses said they saw a white vehicle leaving the scene. Investigators did not confirm if that vehicle was associated with the assailant.
The boy’s father had been arguing with the gunman prior to the shooting, the Los Angeles Times reported.
“At this point it does not appear the child was the intended target,” LAPD Sgt. Scott Moffitt said.
In a late afternoon news conference, police said they do not know what prompted the shooting.
“According to the family, they did not recognize the suspect,” LAPD Pacific Area Capt. Nicole Alberca said. “At this time, the motive is unknown. No other similar incidents have occurred in Pacific Area.”
Police were investigating if the shooting was gang or drug related, Preciado had said Monday morning, but by later afternoon investigators seemed to be backing away from that.
The boy underwent several hours of surgery at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, and was said to be in critical but stable condition as of 5:50 a.m. Doctors removed a bullet from his frontal lobe, police said.
A photo of the boy was released, but his name was not provided.
The home was older and had thick walls, which may have slowed the speed of the ammunition and saved the boy’s life, detectives said.
Police were searching for the gunman, described as a Hispanic man with a medium build and wearing a gray hoodie. It was unknown if he left the home on foot or in a vehicle.