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2 Suspects Arrested In East Palo Alto Baby Shooting Death

EAST PALO ALTO (CBS SF) -- A shooting that killed an infant in East Palo Alto early Sunday morning may have been a mistaken act of retaliation for a gang-related beating that occurred in Redwood City last week, police said Monday.

Police have arrested a 17-year-old boy in connection with the killing, and have a second teen in custody on a weapons charge.

The infant, a 3-month-old boy, suffered a fatal gunshot wound to the head when two people opened fire on the car he was in with his family as they left a baby shower on Wisteria Drive around 1 a.m., according to police.

KCBS' Mike Colgan Reports:

Ivonne Garcia Lopez, who was shot in the leg in the attack, said she threw herself over her 4-year-old son Isaiah and 3-month-old son Izak Jesus when two people opened fire on the family's car.

"They destroyed my family," Garcia Lopez said. "I am so devastated with this loss."

The young mother cried intermittently as she gave her account of the shooting at a noon news conference held by East Palo Alto police, who were announcing the arrest of a 17-year-old boy in the case.

Garcia Lopez said she and her husband, 22-year-old Oscar Jimenez, were driving away from the party when the gunmen opened fire, shooting at the car from the side.

Isaiah was not injured in the shooting, Garcia Lopez said. Izak, who would have been 4 months old on June 12, suffered a gunshot wound to the head.

"I took him out of the car seat and he had a hole in his head," she said, weeping.

Jimenez called 911 to report the shooting and drove the family to Stanford Hospital, where Izak was declared dead at 2:15 a.m.

At Monday's news conference, acting police Capt. Jeff Liu said investigators believe the teen they have arrested for the killing was beaten up by Sureno gang members during a confrontation in Redwood City on May 31.

Early Sunday morning, Liu said, investigators believe the teen and a second person spotted the victims in East Palo Alto and mistook them for the attackers.

Police sketches of the two teens arrested in the murder of a 3-month-old in East Palo Alto. (East Palo Alto PD)

"Our investigation tells us that the suspect that we've arrested saw two individuals on Wisteria he believed to have participated in the crime in Redwood City," Liu said.

He said police believe the teen and his cohort armed themselves and opened fire on their car.

Liu said the mother and father were not involved in the beating, and that the shooting was a case of mistaken identity.

The killing prompted intense collaboration between East Palo Alto police and other agencies, including Palo Alto and Menlo Park police and the San Mateo County gang task force, police Chief Ron Davis said.

A special team was formed to investigate the case, and its members began to focus on all known gang members in the area where the shooting happened.

At about 1 p.m. Sunday, police went to a home on Larkspur Drive, the next street over from Wisteria Drive, where they recovered three handguns and took two teens, ages 16 and 17, into custody on weapons charges, Liu said.

Lui said that while they were questioning the teens, one made statements implicating himself in the shooting and was arrested in connection with that case.

The teen, whose name has not been released, is being held at Juvenile Hall. Davis said he is not making a recommendation to the district attorney's office on whether to charge him as an adult.

A $25,000 reward is still being offered in the case.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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