NORTH HIGHLANDS, Calif. (AP) – A devastated father said Monday he had no idea why gunmen targeted his house, firing a barrage of bullets that killed his 10-year-old daughter as she watched TV from a chair near a picture window.
With his own wounded arm in a sling, Ernesto Campos came to look for his wallet in the house scarred by at least a dozen bullet holes.
Blood soaked the carpet and front porch, and the stuffing was blown out of the chair where his daughter, Elvira, had been sitting on Saturday night.
“I don’t know. I don’t know,” Campos said when asked why someone would shoot up his home 11 miles from downtown Sacramento. “Somebody came here from another place. I don’t know.”
Campos and his wife Imelda suffered minor wounds in the attack. They were too distraught to return for long to the home in a tidy working class neighborhood of young families with children.
Meanwhile, evidence has police thinking the crime was even more heinous than previously suspected.
Investigators with the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office initially theorized that a family member had gang ties. However, evidence indicates that whoever fired at least a dozen shots into the home from close range knew there were people inside, including the child, authorities said.
“Due to where the suspects were standing and based on the fact that the lighting in the living room made the girl visible and there were no curtains closed, we absolutely are confident that the gunmen didn’t care that they were shooting at a child,” sheriff’s Sgt. Jason Ramos said.
Authorities were searching for at least two gunmen who walked up to the front of the house. Investigators hope someone with information might be motivated to come forward based on the callousness of the crime.
Along with the parents and Elvira, a 14-year-old son was at home at the time of the shooting and a 20-year-old was away. Another 23-year-old brother lives in the Mexican state of Michoacan, where the family came from 23 years ago.
The family had lived in the home for less than a year. They are now staying with relatives and afraid for their faces to be shown.
“They just don’t want to be here. It’s too sad for them,” said Alejandra Vega, whose daughter was fathered by the Campos’ 23-year-old son.
Vega described Elvira as a happy child who was always smiling, just as she was in a portrait framed on top of the television where the family had gathered Saturday night.
Sheriff’s officials were also investigating a separate shooting Sunday morning that took place not far from the home.
The victim of that shooting _ a 32-year-old man who survived _ was “definitely a gang member,” Ramos said. Detectives were looking at the possibility the shootings were related.
Associated Press writer John Marshall contributed to this report from San Francisco.
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