For the third time in nine months a young child in the northern end of Miami-Dade County was killed by gunfire that police believe was intended for another target.
This time a bullet took the life of Elijah LaFrance, a gregarious 3-year-old who enjoyed getting dressed up and posing for pictures with his younger sister. He was killed at a party celebrating his birthday Saturday night at a rented home in the county’s north end.
In January, Chassidy Saunders, 6, a child who was referred to by family and friends as the “Tic Toc Princess” for her joyous dancing videos, was one of three people hit by gunfire on a Saturday night outside a Model City home. Chassidy died. The two other victims survived.
And last July, during a gathering with friends outside a North Miami-Dade home, 7-year-old Alana Washington was shot in the head and killed during a drive-by shooting. A 1-year-old was also injured by the gunfire that witnesses say came from a car parked at the curb in front of the home. Doctors removed the tubes that were keeping Alana alive after two days.
The shooting death of LaFrance, part of a countywide trend that has seen a rise in gun violence for the first time in decades, had family and local leaders reacting with anger and disgust, as they often do when a child is lost to gunfire. They also promised to use all available resources to capture the shooter.
Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava Tweeted that we must “stand together to demand an end to this cycle of tragedy.” Police Director Alfredo “Freddy” Ramirez’s Twitter feed said his “heart hurts” and he promised to use every resource to “bring this murderer to justice.”
But it was Elijah’s uncle who captured the real heartbreak, his words almost unintelligible as he fought back tears.
“I was just playing with him,” Adrian Annestor told WTVJ Channel 6. “I wish it could have been me because I’ve lived long enough. He couldn’t even say ‘mom’ or ‘dad.’”
Miami rapper Zoey Dollaz also weighed in, posting pictures to his Twitter followers of Elijah posing in different dress with his sister. Dollaz, whose real name is Elvis Millord, said he cried when he learned of Elijah’s death. He also asked his more than 50,000 social media followers to pass along information on the shooter to Elijah’s family.
Millord posted four pictures of Elijah in different outfits posing with the younger little sister, on his Twitter page. Police have upped the reward for information leading to the shooter’s arrest, to $5,000.
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SOURCE: Miami Herald, Charles Rabin