A $50,000 reward was available Thursday for information leading to the person who fatally shot a 4-year-old boy in Altadena nearly six years ago in what detectives said they believed was prompted by a gang-related dispute.
Salvador Esparza III, who lived in Monrovia but was visiting family friends when the gunfire erupted, was shot about 10:40 p.m. July 5, 2016, in the 300 block of West Figueroa Drive, near Lincoln Avenue.
The gunman walked to the home and fired at least 13 rounds, striking the 4-year-old boy and a 27-year-old man, who was a family friend not related to the child, authorities said. Both were taken to Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena, where the boy was pronounced dead. The man survived.
"Detectives believe the shooting was the result of a gang-related dispute and Salvador was an innocent victim in this senseless act of violence," said Lt. Michael Gomez of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.
Sheriff's officials said at the time a person of interest had gotten into a heated, alcohol-fueled argument in the street with the live-in boyfriend of the boy's mother an hour or two before the shooting. The boyfriend and his brother were the shooter's intended targets, sheriff's officials said.
The gunman, who sheriff's officials said is possibly a gang member who lived in the neighborhood, got into a dark car and left the scene. The attack was initially described as a drive-by shooting but investigators later determined the gunman walked toward the victims from the direction of Olive Avenue.
"The person who did this obviously has no remorse, and the people who are covering for him obviously have no remorse either," said Salvador's mother Coral Esparza. "I just want justice for my son. It's been way too long, he deserves it."
The county Board of Supervisors originally offered a $20,000 reward for information in the case. That reward was increased to $25,000 last year.
With the reward set to expire this month, the board approved a motion by Supervisor Kathryn Barger on May 3 to extend the reward offer and increase it to $50,000.
"The hard reality is that there is perpetrator out there, still at large, who has not faced the consequences of his criminal actions," said Helen Chavez, Barger's communications director.
Anyone with information about the shooting was urged to call sheriff's Sgt. Domenick Recchia at 323-890-5500 or, anonymously, Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-TIPS.