It’s been one year since a local teenager was shot and killed in Mount Hope, and detectives -- along with the victim's family -- are still actively seeking information in the unsolved murder.
On March 24, 2012, at around 8 p.m., 14-year-old Richard “Richie” Carrillo was sitting on the tailgate of a parked pickup truck in an alley in the 3500 block of Island Avenue near Market Street.
As the teen was talking with friends, investigators say a dark-colored SUV drove up to them and stopped. Two unknown Hispanic males in their 20s got out of the vehicle and began shooting toward Carrillo and his friends.
Investigators say Carrillo tried to flee on foot, but was fatally struck by gunfire. By the time medics arrived, it was too late, and the teenager died at the scene.
The two suspects fled in the SUV and were last seen driving away westbound.
Since then, homicide detectives have been searching for information on the shooting suspects, who remain at large.
For Carrillo’s heartbroken mother, Elisa Carrillo, the past year without her son has been incredibly difficult.
She says there isn’t a day that goes by that she doesn’t think of her beloved son, who was affectionately nicknamed “Lil’ Richie.”
“I miss him, I miss hearing [his] voice, you miss holding them. You want to hold them, you want to kiss them,” she told NBC 7 on Monday. “You wish you could wake up to hear his voice or hear him play or hear them argue. But you don’t hear that anymore.”
Now, Elisa is fighting every day to bring her son’s killers to justice – and keep the young teen’s memory alive.
On Monday, Elisa spoke at the San Diego Police Department headquarters and held on tight to a photograph of her son.
She held back tears as she tried to explain the pain of what it’s like to suddenly lose a child.
“It’s like a really lost, empty feeling inside. It’s unexplainable,” she said. “I want this to end. I want this to end. I want to have justice and know in my heart, I did the best I could, and know the police and friends – everyone – has done the best they could to close this case.”
Although a year has passed, police say they have no suspects in this case.
Elisa says she wants to use the one year anniversary of her son’s death to remind people of what happened, in hopes that someone out there will come forward with valuable information.
“These kids shouldn’t have to go through this. We, as parents, shouldn’t have to bury our children so young,” she added.
A few weeks ago, Elisa says friends and family celebrated what would’ve been Lil’ Richie’s 15th birthday. They sang ‘Happy Birthday’ at the cemetery where the teen is buried.
And for his mother, it was both heartwarming and heartbreaking.
“You want to sit there and promise them over and over that the day they were born, you were going to be there to protect them, but sometimes we're not there to protect them. I wish I was able to be there to protect them,” said Elisa.
Investigators are asking anyone with information on this unsolved murder to contact the SDPD homicide unit at (619) 531-2293 or the Crime Stoppers anonymous tip line at (888) 580-8477. Officials are offering a $3,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the suspects responsible for Carrillo’s murder.