3-year-old in intensive care after being shot in possible gang-related shooting in Santa Ana

Meanwhile, police are still trying to track down a suspect.

David González Image
Tuesday, February 27, 2024
Girl recovering after being shot in possible gang-related shooting
A little girl who was shot while sitting in the backseat of a car with her parents in Santa Ana is expected to survive following a series of surgeries.

SANTA ANA, Calif. (KABC) -- A shooting in Santa Ana that critically injured a 3-year-old girl that was riding in the backseat of her mother's car may have been gang-related, according to police.

It all happened Sunday night near the area of 15th and Spurgeon streets. Police say the little girl's mom was driving through an intersection in the area when someone ran up and started shooting.

"It was not until moments later that the mom realized that her daughter was in distress in the backseat," said Santa Ana Police Ofc. Natalie Garcia. "They stopped in a nearby area and then realized that the child was shot."

The little girl's 4-year-old sister was also sitting in the backseat but wasn't injured. Police believe the mother's boyfriend, who has not been identified, was the intended target of the shooting.

"The front passenger is a documented gang member. Detectives believe it's gang-related," said Garcia.

The mother rushed the toddler to Children's Hospital of Orange County, which is located about two miles away from the shooting scene.

Video obtained by Eyewitness News shows a white Nissan Altima with several bullet holes. Police say two bullets hit the back of the vehicle, and one of them pierced through the trunk, striking the 3-year-old in the back.

"The child is in the [ICU] right now. After undergoing several surgeries, she's critical but she's in stable condition. She's expected to live," said Garcia.

Police said the suspect fled on foot, though a detailed description wasn't immediately released. The mother and the mother's boyfriend are cooperating with the investigation, according to police, and no arrests have been made.

Meanwhile, residents in the area said the neighborhood is filled with families and is typically pretty quiet during the day. They sometimes feel unsafe at night.

"It's very dangerous because there's a lot of gangs here. It's a bad area," said Maria Guadalupe Vargas. "I tell my kids, my daughter is 19 and my son is 22, 'Don't go outside. It's dangerous living here.'"

If you have relevant information about the shooting, you're urged to contact police.

"This is something sad, especially, like, I'm a dad," said a local father. "I pray for the kid. Hopefully, everything changes in Santa Ana."