(LOS ANGELES) — A shooting outside a Los Angeles elementary school left a 13-year-old boy dead and two people critically wounded, including a 9-year-old girl who was hit by a stray bullet while on a playground, authorities said.
The violent episode marked the latest in an escalating number of shootings in Los Angeles, which has seen a 12% increase in homicides and a nearly 14% jump in shooting incidents this year as compared to 2020, according to Los Angeles Police Department crime statistics.
Gunfire erupted shortly before 5 p.m. on Monday outside the Wilmington Park Elementary School when at least two gunmen walked up to an occupied vehicle stopped near the school and opened fire, according to police.
The boy who was killed and a 20-year-old woman were inside the apparently targeted Dodge Durango, police said. The wounded woman drove several blocks from the shooting scene and called 911, police said.
The gravely wounded child was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead, Los Angeles Fire Department officials told ABC station KABC in Los Angeles. The female driver was in critical condition at a hospital Monday night, officials said.
The 9-year-old girl, a fourth grader, was on the playground at Wilmington Park Elementary School as part of an after-school program when she was struck by a stray bullet and critically injured, school officials said.
“She was in the schoolyard just playing, just doing what a 9-year-old is supposed to do,” LAPD Capt. Adrian Gonzalez told reporters at the scene.
Police officials said officers initially suspected two separate shootings occurred but after speaking to witnesses determined the shootings were connected.
No arrests have been made and a motive was under investigation, police said.
The shooting left parents of students at the school shocked and frightened for their own children.
“It’s sad and scary,” Maria Garcia, whose daughter attends the school, told KABC. “I’m always paranoid. I’m always scared. I’m always checking on her, always calling her, always making sure she’s OK and safe.”
Los Angeles has had at least 352 homicides through the end of November, up from 314 at this time last year, according to police department crime statistics. The city has also recorded 1,328 shooting victims, up from 1,168 at this time last year, the statistics show.
“This is such a tragedy. Gun violence has destroyed too many lives in this country and tonight it has terrorized another community,” Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn, who represents the Wilmington area, wrote on Twitter Monday night. “I am praying for the family of this little boy and for the recovery of the little girl and young woman.”
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