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Bike gunman shoots father, toddler in Los Angeles

Bike gunman shoots father, toddler in Los Angeles

June 6th, 2012 in News

LOS ANGELES (AP) - A sign on the fence in front of his family's Hickory Street home reads Angel Mauro Cortez Nava, lists his date of birth and death, displays photos of him as a newborn and on a rocking horse and includes the words "We Love You."

What it does not convey is the outrage the 14-month-old's killing has caused inside and outside the Watts neighborhood where the young boy was gunned down by a bicyclist Monday night.

The shooting is "an awful tragedy" that has unsettled the department's highest ranks, Los Angeles police Chief Charlie Beck told the department's oversight board Tuesday.

"Gang violence touches everybody," he said. "People have to understand that even though gang members may target each other, victims cross a wide, broad swath. It's extremely unfortunate," he told the board and the Los Angeles Times.

A teenage assassin wearing a hoodie and riding a bicycle killed Angel and injured his father, Mauro Cortez, 24, as the man cradled his son on the sidewalk near his home, police said.

The cyclist fired several shots as he rode by, police said.

The infant was shot in the stomach and died at a hospital following surgery. The father was struck in the shoulder and was released from the hospital Tuesday.

Police scheduled a news conference Tuesday afternoon to ask the public to help in the search for the killer.

They have not released a motive, but Beck, relatives and neighbors all pointed to the gang feud.

The attacker was black and the father is Latino, authorities said. Neighbors told the Times they have been caught in the crossfire of a six-month turf war between Fudgetown, a black gang, and the Hispanic Barrio Grape Street gang.

In an interview with CBS2 Tuesday, Cortez said through a translator that he was devastated, his son was everything to him and he is scared. He asked the public for help finding the gunman.

The gang feud has resulted in more than a half-dozen killings in the area in the last year, police said.

One of the men Cortez was with on the sidewalk may have been wearing a purple shirt when the shooting took place, a color some associate with the Barrio Grape Street gang, the Times said. Grape Street is one block west of Hickory.

Cortez is an immigrant from Jalisco, Mexico, who did odd jobs, friends and relatives told the Times. When he showed up three years ago, the Cervantes family took him in, said matriarch Sara Cervantes.

Cortez had nothing to do with any gang, neighbors said.

He got married and in 2011, Angel was born.