San Diego police and the family of a 15-year-old slain near Chicano Park paint different pictures of the department's response on the evening of the shooting, with the family arguing police were the reason the boy didn't receive potentially life-saving medical aid sooner.
Brian Romo, 15, was shot Oct. 23 as he was walking from Chicano Park to a liquor store across the street, according to his family. By the time SDPD arrived, Romo was in the back seat of a sedan his family says was trying to take him to the hospital.
“Police swarmed the park and blocked off the car," Romo's sister Perla Castrejon claimed. "They didn’t allow the car to take him to the hospital”
His family also said that according to witnesses in the park, detectives were more concerned with finding the suspect than helping Romo, delaying treatment further.
"People there pleaded the police to let them escort them to the hospital because all they wanted to do was save my brother’s life," Castrejon said.
The police department describes the officers' response differently. The sedan was trying, but as officers arrived two people in the sedan, and others who had crowded around the car, fled on foot, according to SDPD Lt. Andra Brown. That's when officers found Romo in the backseat with an apparent gunshot wound to his torso and immediately began giving him CPR.
Officers called for support from medics and questioned witnesses about a possible suspect description, Lt. Brown said.
"Investigators are aware of the large crowd present at the time of the incident and would like to speak to them. We do not have any suspect information at this time," Lt. Brown said in a press release.
Romo was taken to the hospital by an ambulance and was pronounced dead.
Anyone with information on the homicide is encouraged to contact the San Diego Police Department’s Homicide Unit (619) 531-2293 or Crime Stoppers at (888) 580-8477.
A carwash fundraiser was set up for Romo's family Tuesday at Pozoleria Acapulco in Logan Heights, and a GoFundMe page has also been created.