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Man arrested in 2006 murder of 3-year-old

June 14, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
After nearly four years, police finally arrested the man suspected of fatally shooting a 3-year-old boy in Pomona.Pablo Adame, 25, of La Verne, was booked for murder in the death of 3-year-old Ethan Esparza, who was killed Nov. 19, 2006 at his own birthday party at his grandparents' house in the 800 block of East Columbia Street. The boy would have turned 4 the day after the shooting.

Investigators believe the child was struck by stray gunfire intended for two other people standing in front of the residence, including a 16-year-old gang member who was seriously wounded but recovered. The little boy gasped for air and died in his mother's arms.

Pomona police and the FBI worked together in the case. Ballistics evidence linked the murder to a gang-related shooting that occurred 18 months earlier in Norwalk.

Adame, a member of a Los Angeles-based street gang, was arrested last Wednesday, just moments after he was released on parole for an unrelated domestic violence case.

"It was kind of gratifying that I was there to greet him and to meet him. His freedom was very short lived. In fact, he made a comment about how this was the shortest time where he hit the streets and then he was rearrested," said Pomona police Det. Dan Kono.

Ethan's family was devastated by his murder and thought this day might never come. His mother is relieved.

"I still can't believe it, but I'm very happy and I'm glad they caught him so it won't happen again and just to let those gang members out there know that they can't get away with this," said Ethan's mother. "They can't go around shooting, and it's always the innocent people that pay for this."

Ethan's mother added that though the arrest does bring closure, it doesn't bring her son back.

Kono, the lead detective in the investigation, said the case touched him more than any other homicide case.

"He's killed at his own birthday party. I mean, that to me is horrendous. That to me is what all of our efforts are aimed at as far as suppressing gang violence and stamping out gangs. That just epitomizes what it's all about," said Kono.

Adame was being held on $4 million bail. He's scheduled to be arraigned June 29 in Pomona Superior Court on one count of murder and two counts of attempted murder.

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