Bullets tear into Pomona home, killing 8-year-old boy

Justin Armijo was relaxing in his bedroom Monday evening when he heard a car pull up in his Pomona neighborhood, followed by a handful of gun shots in quick succession.

"It was like bam bam bam bam,” Armijo said. “I stuck my head out the window, but I couldn't see anything."

Two doors down, bullets tore through the home of one of Armijo’s neighbors, killing 8-year-old Jonah Hwang, who was visiting with his family.

The people who live in the house, educators in two school districts,  had invited a family over for dinner to their home in the 1100 block of West 11th Street, said Pomona Police Lt. Eddie Vazquez.

The adults and five or six children were sitting in the living room when the car pulled up outside just before 6:36 p.m., according to officials.

Jonah was the only person struck by the gunfire, Vazquez said. 

Police do not believe the residents have any gang connections, but this is the second time the house has been shot at in the last three weeks, Vazquez said. No one was injured in the last shooting.

Pomona Police Lt. Alex Rilloraza said no one has been arrested and that officials are seeking help from the public.

Los Angeles County fire personnel treated the boy before rushing him to a hospital, said supervising fire dispatcher Ed Pickett, who confirmed that the boy had been shot in the head.

The boy was pronounced dead at the hospital, police said.

A couple and their two children — a son and a daughter — live in the house that was fired on, said Justin Armijo’s brother, David Armijo. They hold Bible study at the house, and the kids often play outside and ride their bikes, David Armijo said. 

"They are pretty nice people,” Justin Armijo said of the house’s residents. “The guy was always outside working on his lawn.” 

On Tuesday around 11 a.m., rain fell lightly over the small beige house, where colorful flowers line the front yard. The street was quiet — the only sign of a homicide were the four bullet holes that had pierced the garage door and stucco walls. 

"Nothing prepares us for when a child is seriously injured or killed," Vazquez said.

Five minutes after Justin Armijo heard the gunshots, police and ambulance arrived. His mother cried when she found out that the boy had died, he said.

On Tuesday morning, Justin and David Armijo watched as David’s 5-year-old son played nearby. Justin Armijo has lived with his mother on the block for more than 10 years.

David Armijo said he doesn’t know if gang activity has increased recently, but he said his mother’s car has been broken into more frequently in recent months than before. 

David Armijo visits his brother and mother often — they celebrated his son’s birthday there a few weeks ago.

But now, he worries about bringing his son to this street.

Pomona police asked anyone with information about the shooting to call the department at (909) 620-2085. 

melissa.etehad@latimes.com

Twitter: @melissaetehad

Times staff writers Sonali Kohli and Maya Lau contributed to this report.

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UPDATES:

Feb. 21, 1:40 p.m.: This story was updated with additional details about the shooting and the victim. 

This story was originally published Feb. 20 at 11 p.m.

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