12-year-old fatally hit by stray bullet on Thanksgiving, according to San Diego family

Angel Domingo Gaspar Gallegos smiles by a birthday cake
Angel Domingo Gaspar Gallegos, 12, was killed while playing in a backyard with his cousins during a Thanksgiving gathering, his family says.
(Courtesy of Maria Gaspar)

A family Thanksgiving gathering turned tragic on Thursday when a 12-year-old was apparently fatally struck by a stray bullet while playing in the backyard of a San Diego home.

Angel Domingo Gaspar Gallegos, 12, was with about a dozen of his cousins when his younger brother heard a loud bang and saw Angel fall to the ground, according to family members.

“We thought my backyard was the safest place in the world for the kids to play,” Maria Gaspar, the victim’s aunt, said Saturday. Gaspar said she was hosting a large holiday gathering with approximately 40 family members at the home she had recently moved into in the Skyline neighborhood.

Angel Domingo Gaspar Gallegos at the Grand Canyon
Angel Domingo Gaspar Gallegos, 12, seen here at the Grand Canyon, was fatally shot Thursday.
(Courtesy of Maria Gaspar )

Gaspar said Angel’s mother tried to stop the bleeding from the gunshot wound to his back while the family waited for emergency services around 9:30 p.m. Thanksgiving Day. San Diego police officers and other emergency responders performed CPR on the boy.


“I think he was already gone before they even got here,” said Gaspar.

The child was rushed to UC San Diego Medical Center, where he died.

The shooting happened on Cahill Drive near Brutus Street. Angel, who attended Parkway Middle School in La Mesa, was visiting the home as a family guest.

The family has set up a GoFundMe to help cover funeral expenses, according to the aunt.

Gaspar said the bullet appeared to come from a neighbor’s home to the east of her house. San Diego homicide detectives were investigating the incident on Saturday, but a lieutenant said it wasn’t certain the case would be ruled a homicide or whether it was an accidental gun discharge.

Gaspar said her brother and sister-in-law had already lost one child. Her niece, the couple’s first child, had a heart condition and died during surgery when she was 1 year old, approximately 14 years ago. She said Angel was the couple’s second child.

On Saturday evening, the family held a candlelight vigil for the community and their large family to mourn Angel. Visitors brought votive candles and flowers to add to a memorial set up on the home’s driveway.

Jose Casillas said his nephew liked to play video games and play with his little brother and sister. He also enjoyed frequent camping trips with his father.

“He was a happy kid,” Casillas said Saturday night.

San Diego Police Lt. Judson Campbell said he could not release any details about the ongoing investigation. No description of a possible shooter was given, and Campbell could not say whether a firearm was recovered.