Boys Shot; Suspect Sought
A pair of young brothers from Boyle Heights remained hospitalized Sunday with gunshot wounds after being struck by a bullet believed to have been fired by a longtime area gang member, police said.
The boys were wounded when a gunman fired toward a crowd in the 400 block of North St. Louis Street around 9:30 Saturday night.
The bullet struck Jeremy Hernandez, 3, in the wrist and lodged in the stomach of Jeremy’s 6-year-old brother, James. Both boys remain at White Memorial Adventist Hospital, James in critical condition and Jeremy in stable condition.
Police on Sunday identified the alleged shooter as Mauricio Alejandro Jimenez, a native of Mexico and longtime member of the Boyle Heights-based Tiny Boys gang.
Jimenez, 26, has been arrested at least seven times in the past several years for a variety of weapons and gang-related charges -- and was deported to Mexico just four months ago after serving more than a year in state prison.
Now Jimenez, who goes by the nickname “Spyder,” is the subject of a full-scale manhunt. On Sunday, LAPD officials and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa appealed to local citizens to help track him down.
City Councilman Jose Huizar, whose 14th District includes Boyle Heights and who lives a few blocks from the shooting scene, called on area residents to come forward, even anonymously, with tips about Jimenez’s whereabouts.
Police encouraged anyone with information to call their anonymous tip line. But officials acknowledged citizens with relevant information might be unwilling to come forward -- even anonymously -- for fear of retaliation by the gang.
Boyle Heights “is their ground zero,” said Det. Bill Eagleson of the Hollenbeck Police Station. “They still think they own it.”
Still, Eagleson said he was heartened by the fact that several neighborhood residents immediately came forward to identify Jimenez as the shooter.
Jimenez has been arrested multiple times -- mostly for illegal firearms possession, possession of firearms in a school zone and vandalism, Eagleson said.
Most recently, he spent just over a year in prison on weapons charges and a parole violation.
The mayor pointed to Jimenez’s case as a failure of the local justice system, saying that because of his gang affiliation and record he should have received a longer sentence for the weapons charges and parole violation.
Individuals with information are requested to call the 24-hour police tips hotline: (877) 529-3855.