Sacramento 3-year-old in car dies from gunshots apparently aimed at father

Kim Minugh (The Sacramento Bee) | July 6, 2012

With exploding firecrackers masking the noise, a 3-year-old boy was gunned down in the Florin area Wednesday night as an assailant still at large unloaded more than a dozen bullets into the car the child was riding in.

Authorities believe that the boy’s 22-year-old father, Jorge Azios Jr., who was driving the car, was the likely target, but he wasn’t hit in the barrage of gunfire from another vehicle. Azios rushed his young son and namesake to a local hospital, but to no avail. Young Jorge was pronounced dead at 11:13 p.m., less than half an hour after the shooting.

On Thursday, Sacramento County sheriff’s detectives had not publicly identified a suspect. However, they said, based on their preliminary investigation, that the shooting likely was gang-related, and they pleaded for anyone with information to come forward.

“We need help, even if it’s something as vague as the color of the vehicle or the make and model,” said sheriff’s spokesman Deputy Jason Ramos.

Authorities were alerted to the shooting when hospital officials called to say they were treating a child who had been shot. Deputies arrived at the hospital to find a chaotic and emotional scene as the boy’s family poured in, Ramos said. There, detectives learned the shooting had occurred shortly before 11 p.m. just east of James Rutter Middle School.

The boy’s father was driving westbound on Loucreta Drive approaching Palmer House Drive when a car pulled up behind him, Ramos said. Someone inside the car fired into Azios’ car more than a dozen times, shattering the rear window, Ramos said.

The younger Jorge was in the back seat, not in a car seat, where he was struck multiple times.

Ramos said detectives do not have a description of the suspect’s vehicle, nor do they know how many people were inside. He said dispatchers received no 911 calls from the area, which he described as having a “fair share” of gang and drug activity.

On Thursday afternoon, Loucreta Drive, a street peppered with duplexes and boarded windows, was quiet. Outside one vacant home, a memorial to the child grew, with balloons bobbing in the breeze above a bag of Taco Bell food and Batman-themed Hot Wheels toys.

Neighbors gathered here and there in garages and on porches. No one interviewed professed to know anything about the shooting, saying the fireworks made it difficult to hear anything the night before. All declined to give their names for fear of retaliation.

About 100 people gathered for a prayer vigil Thursday night at the intersection where the shooting occurred. Balloons, stuffed animals and posters with photos of the boy were piled up and attached to the street sign.

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