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10-Year-Old Badly Hurt in Gunfire at Church Fiesta

A 10-year-old boy was seriously wounded when a weekend church carnival in Santa Ana erupted in a shooting match between rival gangs Sunday night.

Noe Lazaro of Santa Ana was playing a ring-toss game at the annual fiesta held by Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, 1100 S. Center Ave., when he and other family members heard shots shortly after 10 p.m.

As some in the crowd of about 1,000 began to scatter, Noe and his older brother, Emilio, ran toward McFadden Avenue. Noe was struck in the neck by a bullet, possibly from a .22-caliber handgun, according to police.

“As far as we can tell, he was an innocent bystander,” said Maureen Thomas, media relations officer for the Santa Ana police.

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Noe’s father, Emigdio, confirmed that his son was not acquainted with the gang members. Family members have immigrated to Santa Ana from Guatemala over the last two years.

“We came here looking for a new life,” said Emigdio Lazaro, who works in a lamp-pole manufacturing company in Santa Ana and has no health insurance. “Now this. . . .”

The boy was taken to Fountain Valley Regional Hospital, where he remained in stable condition late Monday in the pediatric intensive care unit. Lazaro said X-rays indicated that the bullet had grazed his son’s spinal cord. He said doctors were not certain whether his son would suffer some paralysis on his right side.

Police had no suspects in custody Monday, but its gang detail was continuing to investigate. One woman who witnessed the shooting told a reporter that the incident may have been a retaliation for a knife attack at the fiesta earlier Sunday.

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