A three-year-old Florida boy who was celebrating his birthday was shot and killed by a bullet over the weekend, police said. Miami-Dade Police said Elijah LaFrance, who would have turned four in a few days, was celebrating his birthday with another child, when a stray bullet struck him. An unidentified 21-year-old woman was shot at the gathering.
The toddler was taken to the hospital, where he "succumbed to his injuries", according to police. The woman is expected to survive her injuries. Police have started an investigation into the incident but no arrests have been made yet. Authorities were offering a $25,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of suspects in the case.
Innocent Live Lost
LaFrance was celebrating his fourth birthday when he was struck by a stray bullet in a Miami suburb on Saturday evening, when some unidentified man armed with semi-automatic weapons, including rifles, arrived and open fired at the venue. The child's family was cleaning up the yard after the party at that time, according to police.
The boy was standing in the doorway of the house when the firing started and one bullet struck him. Police said the gunman open fired and at least 60 shots were fired, with one hitting LaFrance. The boy's aunt found him wounded, and he was rushed to the hospital, where he later died of his injuries.
According to NBC 6 South Florida, the shooting took place near the exterior of a short-term rental, which the family had booked to celebrate the boy's birthday, shortly after 8 pm. The property was apparently an Airbnb rental booked for the party. A neighbor reported hearing 20 to 30 gunshots outside the home.
The random firing was heard several neighbors who informed the police. "A barrage of gunfire went on for a good 30 seconds, at least 40 or 50 probably," Kevin Goldensaid. "I saw a car right here at the end of my driveway. There was an individual outside of the car with an assault rifle firing in this direction, of course," Golden added.
Besides LaFrance, another 21-year-old woman was also shot in the incident. She is in stable condition at Aventura Hospital and is expected to recover. "I am completely devastated, I'm disgusted," said Miami-Dade County Police Department Chief Alfredo Ramirez III as he vowed to invest every effort possible to solve the crime.
Naturally, the boy's family is devastated after his tragic death. "They killed him. Oh God, he is still on my mind. I was just with him playing with him," said Adrian Annestor, LaFrance's uncle. "That boy was so sweet."
An investigation has been launched into the incident but no arrests have been made. Police had earlier announced a reward of $15,000 for information leading to the arrest of suspects in the case, which has now been increased to $25,000.